For the last 17 years the community of St Egidio has been gathering bishops from different part of the world for a few days of prayer, reflection and service in Rome. The meeting is normally held around the "birthday" of the community (February 7). This year we started on Tuesday 3 February in the evening and finished on Saturday 7.
Wednesday afternoon after Andrea Riccardi's conference, bishops shared their own experience in their countries.
Talking with some of the bishops on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, we were all touched at the number of bishops who shared about violence, war and destruction. A bishop said "we never imagined this could happen... nearly all the Christian churches, both Catholic and Protestant were burn. Only two remained."
We heard similar stories from Siria, Niger, Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi... It seemed to be a litany of sufferings. There was always one question: "why... why... why...?!"
Wednesday morning Pope Francis had made a passionate plea against war. Not sure the media picked it up.
"Once again my thought goes to the beloved Ukrainian people. Unfortunately, the situation is worsening and the opposition between the sides is getting graver. We pray, first of all, for the victims, among whom there are many civilians, and for their families, and we pray to the Lord that this horrible fratricidal violence will end soon. I renew my heartbroken appeal that every effort be made – also at the international level – for the resumption of dialogue, the only possible way to bring about peace and harmony in that martyred land.
Brothers and sisters, when I hear the words "victory" or "defeat", I feel a great pain, a great sadness in my heart. They are not the right words. The only right word is peace! This is the only right word!
I think of you, brothers and sisters of Ukraine. But think about this, this is a war among Christians! You have your Baptism, you are fighting among Christians! Think about this, this scandal! And let us pray so that prayer may be our protest in front of God in times of war."