Pope Francis told pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday of his deep anguish over the “macabre regression of humanity” in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol — “Mary’s City,” as he described it.
“I suffer and weep, thinking of the sufferings of the Ukrainian people, and in particular, the weakest, the elderly and children,” the pontiff said. “There are even terrible reports of children being expelled and deported.”
Speaking from a balcony, he added: “Once again, from here, I renew my request that safe humanitarian corridors be arranged for the people trapped in the steelworks in that city.”
Francis spoke following Regina Caeli, or “Queen of Heaven,” prayers offered during a month that he said is “dedicated to the Mother of God.”
Although the pope still hasn’t mentioned either Russia or its president, Vladimir Putin, by name, his words clearly reflected disappointment in the lack of progress toward peace in a war that began on Feb. 24.
“We are witnessing a macabre regression of humanity” in Mariupol, he said. “I wonder, along with so many anguished people, if peace is truly being sought; whether there is the will to avoid a continued military and verbal escalation; whether everything possible is being done to silence the weapons.”
Along with an invitation for Catholics to “pray the Rosary for peace” during the month, Francis said, “I beg you, let us not surrender to the logic of violence, to the perverse spiral of weapons. May the path of dialogue and peace be taken!”
On March 25, Francis led bishops around the globe in consecrating Ukraine and Russia to Mary.
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