Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Mar 20, 2022 / 05:28 am (CNA).
Pope Francis continued to call for an end to the war in Ukraine Sunday, calling the violence against innocent Ukrainians “inhuman and sacrilegious.”
Without mentioning Russia by name, the pope said, “The aggression against Ukraine has not ceased. Violent acts of aggression occur each day. There is no justification for this. I appeal to the world to put an end to this.”
The pope spoke about the situation in Ukraine from his balcony above St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, following the recitation of the Angelus, a Catholic Marian prayer.
During his remarks he recalled the Ukrainian refugee children he met during his surprise visit to Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital in Rome on Saturday.
The children suffering from cancer, neurological diseases, and other illnesses were brought to Italy for medical treatment during the first days of the war in Ukraine. Some had serious blast wounds from the war, a Vatican spokesman said.
“I went to visit the young children who are here in Rome who have been wounded in the war. Young, innocent children. One had an amputated arm. One a wound to the head,” the pope reflected.
“I think about the millions of Ukrainian refugees who have had to leave everything behind, and those who do not even have the possibility to leave,” the pope said.
“All of this is inhuman and sacriligeous, because it goes against the sacredness of human life.”
Pope Francis also called on the faithful to join him on March 25 in praying for the consecration of Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. EWTN will broadcast the consecration ceremony at 12 noon EST.
The pope also praised the “solidarity and closeness” demonstrated by the pastors and other priests and church leaders in Ukraine who have remained with their people during the crisis.
The pope specifically mentioned the Vatican’s representative in Ukraine, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, who revealed in an interview March 17 with Raymond Arroyo on “The World Over” that he has not left the nunciature in Kyiv because the situation outside is too dangerous.
Kulbokas said in the interview that while it is logistically feasible for the pope to travel to Kyiv, such a visit is unlikely to happen because continued Russian missile and artillery attacks on the city make it impossible to have public gatherings.
“I know that Pope Francis wants to do all that is possible for him in order to contribute for peace, so I know for sure that he is evaluating, he is thinking about all the possibilities,” the nuncio said.
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Pope Francis is correct. There’s no justification in Russia’s invasion and war against Ukraine. The air strikes, bombardments, killings are immoral. Vladimir Putin is at fault. Although a world effort to end the killing, killing that amounts to meditated murder of innocent Ukrainians must be more political and less militarily driven.
Ukraine has the right to defend itself militarily. The West has a right to assist, but not to exacerbate the conflict, perhaps leading to a nuclear response and world catastrophe. Every effort should be made to draw Ukraine and Russia into a mediated negotiation to reconcile issues on both sides.