Pope Francis on Sunday described the war in Ukraine as a “macabre regression of humanity”.
Speaking to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square for his noon blessing, Francis again implicitly criticised Russia.
In Roman Catholicism, the month of May is dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God. Francis asked for month-long prayers for peace in Ukraine.
My thoughts go immediately to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, the city of Mary, barbarously bombarded and destroyed, he said of the mostly Russian-controlled southeastern port city, which is named after Mary.
Francis has not specifically mentioned Russia or its president, Vladimir Putin, since the start of the conflict on Feb. 24, but he has left little doubt which side he has criticised, using terms such as unjustified aggression and invasion and lamenting atrocities against civilians.
I suffer and cry thinking of the suffering of the Ukrainian population, in particular the weakest, the elderly, the children, he said, mentioning “terrible news of children who are being expelled and deported”.
Ukraine has said that Moscow has forcefully deported thousands of people to Russia. In remarks published on Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said more than 1 million people have been evacuated from Ukraine into Russia since Feb. 24. Mr Lavrov said 2.8 million people in Ukraine have asked to be evacuated into Russia.