Dear friends, good afternoon!
I am grateful to His Excellency Archbishop Stanislaw for the opportunity to address you. We spent the morning together and we just met with displaced individuals and families from neighboring Ukraine.
It is never easy to put a face or give a name to painful stories. It is much easier to preach theoretically about suffering. And it is simply impossible to imagine how much devastation this atrocious invasion has caused for the Ukrainian people and the entire world!
Our experience these two days was indeed heart-breaking. There is nothing easy about meeting with people who have fled – and they continue to flee – the safety of their homes. It is not comfortable to engage with women, children and seniors, all of whom have either left behind or even lost their loved ones – indeed, left behind all of their belongings, except their precious memories. No one can ever take the memories away from them.
I confess there are no words to describe what we encountered. So I quote from the Prophet Jeremiah:
If my head was a spring of water, and if my eyes were a fountain of tears, I would weep all day and night for the slaying of my people (Jer. 9.1).
What I realized very intensely during my visit here is that sometimes there is only room for tears. Sometimes the only appropriate response is silence. Sometimes we can only share the power of touch, of consolation, of sitting beside someone.
We have already congratulated you on the generosity and hospitality of everyone in Poland – as well as in other countries neighboring Ukraine. You have literally given your homes and your hearts to your fellow human beings. And the entire world owes you a profound debt of gratitude.
This was how I felt when I met young boys and girls away from their families, mothers who have left their sons to fight for their country, elderly people with still vivid memories from other wars in the past.
So when you look at these refugees in the eyes;
continue to remember that they are not just displaced immigrants but human beings, like you and me;
continue to remember that – but for the grace of God – anyone of us could be in their vulnerable position;
Then your hearts will melt.
Their fears will become your fears,
their pain will penetrate your own body,
their hopes will become your hopes,
and this entire crisis will be the standard by which your identity and love are measured and judged.
Our sincere prayer and appeal to all of you is that you never forget the tears, or the faces, or the anguish of your brothers and sisters from Ukraine. Your solidarity with them – a heavenly gift, indeed – is the only thing that can overcome evil and darkness in the world.