By Devin Watkins
St. Peter’s Square was filled on Sunday with young pilgrims who participated in the “Caravan for Peace” initiative, organized by the Catholic Action group in Rome.
Greeting the young people following the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis joined in their prayers for peace.
He said the group’s prayers and commitment to peace are even more important this year as Europe witnesses the war in Ukraine.
“Let us think of Ukraine and pray for the Ukrainian people, who are so mistreated,” he said.
The Pope also renewed his appeal for the “grave humanitarian situation in the Lachin Corridor in the South Caucusus.”
“I am close to all those who, in the dead of winter, are forced to cope with these inhumane conditions. Every effort must be made at the international level to find peaceful solutions for the good of people.”
The Lachin Corridor is Nagorno-Karabakh’s land link with Armenia, and has been blocked by Azerbaijan since mid-December as protesters keep supplies from reaching the 120,000 Armenians living in the mountainous enclave.
Separately, Pope Francis recalled the commemoration on Sunday of the 70th World Leprosy Day.
He lamented the stigma attached to Hansen’s Disease, which he added continues to cause “serious human rights violations in various parts of the world.”
“I express my closeness to those who suffer from [leprosy], and encourage efforts to fully integrate these our brothers and sisters.”