A Ukrainian woman cries as she waters a plant in her home in Mykolaiv 

By Alessandro Gisotti

March 25 2022

On 24 February, the Russian military began its invasion of Ukraine, sparking a war that has disrupted the lives of millions of people and dramatically turned the clock of history back to the last century, to the time of the Cold War.

What is one month in the existence of a person? If life flows in an “ordinary” way, it is a short time, a stretch of road that barely leaves deep footprints along our path. Everything changes if that handful of weeks is upset by an event that abruptly shifts the tracks on which the train of history runs.

That’s exactly what happened in this single month that separates us from the night between 23 and 24 February when the Russian armed forces launched their attack against Ukraine. Yes, a month is a short time, and yet these days full of pain, suffering, and anguish seem to be a whole century long, because they have dramatically brought us back to a century—the 20th century—with the looming threat of a new Cold War, even with the fear of an outright Third World War.

Few people really believed that Vladimir Putin would have given the order to attack, as it seemed so absurd, so crazy—even for the interests of the Russian people—to unleash a war in the heart of Europe, and moreover in a historical phase in which, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, humanity is struggling to get back on its feet.

It is now clear that those who sought this reckless and unjustified war did not think to find such a stubborn opposition of the Ukrainian people to whom Europe, and not only, looks with admiration for the strength they are showing in defending their freedom.

The man who has brought back again the horror of war on the Old Continent probably thought that in a few days the “issue” would have been solved.

He ignored in this way, once again, the lesson of history that tragically reminds us—even for the so-called super powers—that once a war has started you never know when (and how) it will end. The only certainty is that people’s lives will be disrupted forever.

“Those who wage war disregard humanity; they do not look at the concrete lives of people,” said Pope Francis in one of his many heartfelt appeals against this conflict falsely presented as “a special military operation.” That is exactly right.

In the perspective of those waging the war, Kiev, Mariupol, and Kharkiv are just goals to be achieved, pieces of a puzzle to be fitted together to achieve “final victory.”

But this is not the boardgame Risk, nor is it a video game. People have truly died in this month that has changed history and continue to die every day, indeed every hour, in the martyred cities of Ukraine.

The concrete lives of people, the lives of families, fathers, mothers, and their children, have been turned upside down forever. The images that arrive daily from Ukraine—and once again, in the words of the Pope, we must thank those journalists who allow us “to be close to the drama of that population”—show us the cruelty of war in all its savagery. And senselessness. Nothing and no one is spared.

What could be more terrible than a pregnant mother dying with her baby in her womb, under bombardment?

“All this is inhuman! Indeed, it is even sacrilegious,” the Pope admonished in words that should shake the conscience of all, especially believers, “because it goes against the sacredness of human life, especially against defenseless human life.”

Every additional day of war is a defeat for humanity, in Ukraine as in Yemen, in Syria, and in Somalia, as well as in every other corner of the planet where people suffer because of this abomination.

This is a defeat to which Pope Francis—with words, with gestures and above all with prayer—asks us not to get used to, encouraging us to build, with patience and courage, a future of peace and hope. -Vatican News