Pope Francis prayed for the intercession of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Sunday to convert “the hearts of those who want war” to projects of dialogue and peace.

On the last day of June, a month that the Catholic Church dedicates to the Sacred Heart, the pope asked people to continue praying for Ukraine, Palestine, Israel, Myanmar, and other parts of the world where there is much suffering caused by war.

Pope Francis also asked people to remember the suffering of persecuted Christians during his Angelus address on June 29. 

“Today we remember the protomartyrs of Rome. We too live in a time of martyrdom even more than in the first centuries,” he said.

“In many parts of the world, many of our brothers and sisters suffer from discrimination and persecution because of their faith, thus fertilizing the Church. Others face a ‘martyrdom with white gloves.’ Let us support them and be inspired by their witness to the love of Christ.”

Reflecting on Sunday’s Gospel in which Jesus healed a bleeding woman and raised a girl from the dead, the pope urged everyone to remember that the Lord draws close to our suffering and wounds.

“In the face of bodily and spiritual sufferings, of the wounds our souls bear, of the situations that crush us, and even in the face of sin, God does not keep us at a distance,” Pope Francis said.

“On the contrary, he draws near to let himself be touched and to touch us, and he always raises us from death. He always takes us by the hand to say: daughter, son, arise!”

Pope Francis asked people to reflect on whether they keep a distance from people who are suffering or draw close to them to offer them a helping hand to lift them up in imitation of Jesus. 

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He urged people to look to the heart of God so that the Church and society do not exclude anyone but offer everyone the opportunity to “be welcomed and loved without labels [and] without prejudice.”

“Let us fix in our hearts this image Jesus gives us: God is one who takes you by the hand and lifts you up, one who lets himself be touched by your pain and touches you to heal you and restore your life. He does not discriminate against anyone because he loves everyone,” Francis said.

“Let us pray to the Holy Virgin. May she who is the mother of tenderness, intercede for us and for the whole world.”