Pope: Ukrainians still suffering from a “cruel war”
Speaking to pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Hall for the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis once again turned his thoughts to the people of Ukraine who, he said, “still suffer from this cruel war”.
He also asked for prayers for the many migrants arriving at this time, and urged everyone to build peace in their families and society.
“I urge everyone to build unity and peace in the family, in the Church, and in society. It is not easy to be peacemakers, both in the family and in the Church, [and build] unity; but we have to do it, because it is important work.”
Pope Francis’ constant closeness to the Ukrainian people
On Sunday, Pope Francis had welcomed the departure from Ukraine's ports of the first shipload of grain, following the deal brokered by Turkey to allow the export of Ukrainian foodstuffs through the Black Sea, after nearly six months of blockade.
At the Angelus, the Holy Father said this step shows “that it is possible to dialogue and achieve concrete results, which benefit everyone” and, therefore, offers a sign of hope that a just and lasting peace can be found.
Pope’s desire to travel to Kyiv and Moscow
Since the Russian invasion on February 24, Pope Francis has expressed countless times his closeness to Ukraine and has made explicit his desire to travel personally to Kyiv to bring comfort and hope to the people affected by the war, also warning on the “danger” that the world might slowly turn its gaze away from the conflict.
Likewise, the Pope has said he is willing to travel to Moscow to plead for an end to the war. However, as confirmed in a recent interview by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, dialogue between Rome and Moscow on this issue is “difficult” and there has been no explicit invitation for the Pope to go to Russia.
168th day of war
As the war enters its 168th day, there are no signs of it ending in the near future. On Wednesday, Russian shelling was reported to have hit Ukraine's central Dnipropetrovsk region, killing at least 13 people overnight.
Meanwhile, 13 people were injured and one person killed on Tuesday by massive explosions at a military air base in the Russian-annexed region of Crimea. According to Russian authorities, the blasts in the airfield 'Saki', near Novofedorivka, was caused accidentally by detonated aviation ammunition. However, a Ukrainian government official told The Washington Post on Wednesday that the explosions were the work of Ukrainian special forces.