By Hannah Brockhaus
During the Angelus Sunday, Pope Francis urged people to think of and pray for the many people in Yemen, especially children, who are starving to death in the war.
Praying a ‘Hail Mary’ for the people of Yemen, the pope urged people Feb. 3 to “pray hard, because there are children who are hungry, who are thirsty, who have no medicine, and are in danger of death,” adding that “we take this thought home with us.”
Francis said he is following the humanitarian crisis in Yemen with great concern, noting that the people of the country are exhausted by the three-year conflict and the lack of access to food.
“The cry of these children and their parents rises before God,” he said. “I appeal to the interested parties and to the international community to urgently encourage compliance with the agreements reached, to ensure the distribution of food and to work for the good of the population.”
Yemen, located on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, has been in civil war since 2015. The war has caused one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with about 22 million of the nearly 29 million people in the country in need of some humanitarian assistance.
Though it is difficult to get official counts because of conditions on the ground, it is estimated that between 13,500 and 80,000 people have been killed in Yemen’s conflict. More than 2 million people have been displaced from their homes and the number of people facing pre-famine conditions could reach 14 million, the U.N. estimated.
Pope Francis’ appeal came on the same day he leaves for a two-day trip to another part of the Arabian Peninsula, to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Before the Angelus, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel, and the “logic” of the idea that since Jesus was performing miracles in the neighboring places, he should perform them also in Nazareth. But this “does not correspond to God’s plan: God wants faith,” he said.
Jesus knows, he continued, that to live the mission given to him by the Father, “he must face fatigue, rejection, persecution and defeat,” though this does not discourage him, and “he goes on his way, trusting in the love of the Father.”
Francis explained that the world needs the same kind of disciples today. People who are courageous in responding to the Christian vocation.
“People who follow the ‘push’ of the Holy Spirit, who sends them to proclaim hope and salvation to the poor and excluded … people who are open to accepting in themselves the will of the Father and are committed to witnessing it faithfully to others.”
The pope concluded his address by asking the Blessed Virgin Mary to intercede for Catholics, that they “may grow and walk in the same apostolic zeal for the Kingdom of God that animated the mission of Jesus.”