Pope Francis Addressed the “Brothers of the Russian Federation”

On the 17th Sunday of regular time (July 30, 2023) after the Angelus, Pope Francis on St. Peter’s Square addressed with an urgent appeal the authorities of the Russian Federation, whom the pontiff called “brothers,” to become as soon as possible the guarantors of the Black Sea agreement on Ukrainian grains.

“We do not stop praying for exhausted Ukraine, where the war destroys everything, even grain. This is a serious insult to God, because wheat is his gift to feed mankind; and the cry of millions of brothers and sisters suffering from hunger rises to Heaven. I appeal to my brothers, the authorities of the Russian Federation, so that the Black Sea Initiative is restored and the grain can be safely transported,” the pontiff said, recalling that July 30 is World Friendship Day proclaimed by the UN.

On July 17, President Vladimir Putin announced Russia’s withdrawal from the agreement on Ukrainian wheat. Moscow accuses the West of slowing down and sabotaging the implementation of the part of the agreement that would also allow Russia to freely export grain, agricultural products, food and chemical fertilizers, while Rosselkhozbank, Russia’s largest state-owned bank with ties to the agro-industrial sector, would be reconnected to the Swift international system, making bank payments possible.

Next Wednesday, Pope Francis starts his 42nd International Journey (July 2-6) and will travel to Portugal, where the 37th World Youth Day will open in Lisbon on August 1. According to the Holy See, this will also be a journey of Mary, because the pontiff will go to Fatima for the entire morning (this is the second time that he, the fourth Pope after Paul VI, John Paul, and Benedict XVI, visits Cova da Iria, where Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children back in 1917). Over 330,000 young people from over 200 countries around the world have already registered to attend the WYD in Lisbon.