Pope Francis greets the crowd as he leaves his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican April 6, 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY | Smaller countries like Malta are called to set an example of true freedom in a world that can seem overwhelmed by powerful nations that seek to extend their own economic, military or ideological interests, Pope Francis said. Reflecting on his recent visit to the Mediterranean archipelago during his weekly general audience April 6, the pope said Malta “represents the rights and power of the ‘small’ nations,” which exemplify the respect, freedom and coexistence that stands “opposed to the colonization of the most powerful.”

“After World War II, the attempt was made to lay the foundations of a new era of peace. But unfortunately -- we never learn, right? -- the old story of competition between the great powers went on. And, in the current war in Ukraine, we are witnessing the impotence of the United Nations,” he said.

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