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Pope Francis: Rivers of blood and tears flow in Ukraine

general audience

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA | I.MEDIA

I.Media for Aleteia - published on 03/06/22

Pope Francis thanks those who are assisting refugees from Ukraine and begs for the humanitarian corridors to be left open.

Without naming Russia, which has been pursuing a vast offensive in Ukraine since February 24, Pope Francis spoke at length about the war after the Angelus prayer on March 6, 2022. He expressed his closeness to “this troubled country” where “rivers of blood and tears flow” inviting once again to resume the path of negotiation. He also expressed a heartfelt tribute to the journalists working in this extremely dangerous area.

This is not just a military operation but a war that sows death, destruction and misery.

“This is not just a military operation but a war that sows death, destruction and misery,” Pope Francis said, in an allusion to the language used by the Kremlin, but without naming Vladimir Putin.

The Pope urged world leaders to take the path of negotiations, as a third round of dialogue is planned between Russian and Ukrainian delegations in a Belarusian town near the border with Poland. These exchanges have not yet produced tangible results, as the agreement on the evacuation of civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol, in the south of the country, was quickly violated.

Nevertheless, the Pope renewed his call for the establishment of humanitarian corridors and for “aid to be guaranteed and access facilitated to the besieged areas, in order to offer vital relief to our brothers and sisters oppressed by bombs and fear.”

“The number of victims is increasing, as are the people fleeing, especially mothers and children. The need for humanitarian assistance in that troubled country is growing dramatically by the hour,” explained Pope Francis.

“I thank all those who are taking in refugees. Above all, I implore that the armed attacks cease and that negotiation – and common sense – prevail. And that international law be respected once again,” he urged.

Two cardinals sent to Ukraine

He said that “the Holy See is willing to do everything to put itself at the service of this peace,” explaining that Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, Apostolic Chaplain, and Cardinal Michael Czerny, acting Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, have been in Ukraine in recent days to assist the population.

“This presence of the two Cardinals is the presence not only of the Pope, but of all the Christian people who want to come closer and say: ‘War is madness! Stop, please! Look at this cruelty!” implored the Bishop of Rome.

The pope also expressed a heartfelt thank you to the journalists who follow the conflict. “Thank you, brothers and sisters, for this service! A service that allows us to be close to the tragedy of that population and enables us to assess the cruelty of war,” the Pontiff said.

Finally, he invited to pray to the Virgin Mary, Queen of Ukraine, noting the presence of many Ukrainian flags among the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Largest military offensive in Europe since the Second World War

The Russian offensive in Ukraine, launched at dawn on February 24, involves several hundred thousand combatants and has caused a large number of civilian and military casualties. According to the Ukrainian government, civilian casualties amounted to more than 2,000, and more than 11,000 Russian soldiers were killed.

On March 2, Moscow only acknowledged the loss of 500 men, and had given an estimate of 2870 dead among Ukrainian forces. In recent hours, there has been a heavy concentration of Russian forces around the capital Kiev, raising fears of a major offensive or a long siege.

The Ukrainian resistance seems to have caught the Russian army off guard, as it was counting on a lightning operation to overthrow the authorities. A few hours after the offensive began, Russian President Vladimir Putin explicitly called on the Ukrainian army to rise up against the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but his call for a putsch was not followed.

Heavy fighting and shelling continues in several cities across the country. The city of Kharkiv has been particularly targeted this week, with strikes hitting government buildings, the university and the headquarters of the Latin Catholic bishopric.

This war is also causing a vast exodus of the population. One and a half million Ukrainian refugees have already been counted since February 24, and they are mainly welcomed in neighboring countries. Poland, Romania and Moldavia have made great efforts to help them.


Read the full text of the Pope’s remarks about Ukraine:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Rivers of blood and tears are flowing in Ukraine. It is not merely a military operation, but a war, which sows death, destruction and misery. The number of victims is increasing, as are the people fleeing, especially mothers and children. The need for humanitarian assistance in that troubled country is growing dramatically by the hour.

I make a heartfelt appeal for humanitarian corridors to be genuinely secured, and for aid to be guaranteed and access facilitated to the besieged areas, in order to offer vital relief to our brothers and sisters oppressed by bombs and fear.

I thank all those who are taking in refugees. Above all, I implore that the armed attacks cease and that negotiation – and common sense – prevail. And that international law be respected once again!

And I would also like to thank the journalists who put their lives at risk to provide information. Thank you, brothers and sisters, for this service! A service that allows us to be close to the tragedy of that population and enables us to assess the cruelty of a war. Thank you, brothers and sisters.

Let us pray together for Ukraine: we have its flags in front of us. Let us pray together, as brothers and sisters, to Our Lady, Queen of Ukraine. Hail Mary…

The Holy See is ready to do everything, to put itself at the service of this peace. In these days, two Cardinals went to Ukraine, to serve the people, to help. Cardinal Krajewski, the Almoner, to bring aid to the needy, and Cardinal Czerny, interim Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The presence of the two Cardinals there is the presence not only of the Pope, but of all the Christian people who want to get closer and say: “War is madness! Stop, please! Look at this cruelty!”

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Pope FrancisRefugeesUkraine
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