The young wife of the commander of the Ukrainian battalion still holed up in a steel plant in Mariupol had what she described as a “heart raising” encounter with Pope Francis.
Pope Francis’ secretary of state reaffirmed the pope’s offer to go to Moscow personally to try to convince President Vladimir Putin to stop his war on Ukraine but said the Kremlin had yet to respond.
In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Pope Francis said he has reached out to Russian President Vladimir Putin about meeting him in Moscow, warned Russian Patriarch Kirill against becoming an “altar boy” for the Kremlin, and compared the ongoing war in Ukraine to Rwanda’s genocide.
Once again, Pope Francis avoided speaking directly about Russian President Vladimir Putin and instead focused on condemning war as a cruel and inhumane act that “goes against the human spirit.”
According to Pope Francis, the “tragedy of the war” taking place in eastern Europe “leaves us astonished,” and it is threatening humanity, all because of a “perverse abuse of power” that is condemning innocent people to endless suffering.
Under the gaze of a painting of “Mary, Untier of Knots” and with dozens of diplomats from around the world, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, celebrated a Mass for peace in Ukraine.
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow has thwarted efforts by Pope Francis to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian Archbishop Borys Gudziak said on March 15.
Russian President Vladimir Putin did not invade Ukraine out of concern that NATO would encroach on his borders, but concern about “the disease of democracy that could spread like a virus, and that’s deadly for oligarchies and authoritarian rulers,” said the archbishop who serves as a “foreign minister” for the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
According to the Vatican’s top diplomat, Russia has “taken note” of the Holy See’s willingness to mediate between the Kremlin and Ukraine to put an end to the war, but has made no sign of wanting to take up the offer.
A top United Nations official said March 6 that the world hasn’t seen a refugee crisis such as the one developing in Eastern Europe, caused by Russia’s attack on Ukraine, since the last World War.