Pope Francis urges gestures that foster reconciliation, even as reports come in of Russia's concentration of troops.
On Monday, a EU diplomat said that Russia has concentrated more than 150,000 troops on Ukraine’s border and in annexed Crimea.
The pope spoke of the escalating situation on Sunday, after praying the midday Regina Caeli with pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.
The Holy Father’s appeal was urgent, as he asked, “Please, I firmly hope that the increase of tensions may be avoided …”
He led a Hail Mary for peace. Here is what he said:
I am following with deep concern the events in several areas of eastern Ukraine, where in recent months violations of the cease-fire have multiplied, and I observe with great apprehension the increase of military activities.
Please, I firmly hope that the increase of tensions may be avoided and, on the contrary, gestures may be made that are capable of promoting mutual trust and fostering reconciliation and peace, so necessary and so desired.
May we also keep at heart the grave humanitarian situation being experienced by that population, to whom I express my closeness and for whom I invite you to pray. Ave Maria….