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The Pope’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, will preside over a “Mass for Peace in Ukraine” on March 16 at 5:00 p.m., the Vatican press office announced. All members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See will be invited to Saint Peter’s Basilica for the Mass.
The Holy See officially maintains diplomatic relations with 183 out of the 195 countries that exist to date. In these nations, the Holy See has either a local nunciature (106) or a delocalized nunciature (77). In comparison, China has an ambassador in 169 countries, the United States in 168 countries and France in 161 countries.
Pope Francis will not participate in the Mass. His absence does not appear to be due to a health problem as he is scheduled to celebrate a Mass on March 12 on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the canonization of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of his own spiritual family, the Society of Jesus.
Cardinal Parolin, the Pontiff’s “right-hand man” oversees the Holy See’s diplomacy.
He has spoken out many times since the war began. On March 9, during a seminar held in Rome, he expressed his indignation at the bombing of a children’s hospital in Mariupol (Ukraine).
He also criticized the words of Russian Patriarch Kirill, which he said could “inflame people’s minds even more and lead to an escalation.”