The religious leader had previously announced plans to visit Kiev and possibly Moscow
Pope Francis has urged his followers to pray for negotiations between Russia and Ukraine to resume. During Sunday’s Angelus service, he claimed to be “near the suffering Ukrainian people” and asked “how is it possible not to understand that war only creates destruction and death, driving people apart, killing truth and dialogue.”
The comments, which were also posted on Twitter, were just the latest of many statements the pontiff has made regarding the conflict. He has repeatedly urged both sides to return to the negotiating table and for Western countries to cease beefing up their defense spending in response to the war.
Earlier this month he announced he would “renew [his] closeness to the Ukrainian people, who are daily tormented by the brutal attacks that ordinary people are paying for,” calling on followers to pray for an “end to this senseless war.”
Pope Francis has frequently called for “de-escalation” and an end to hostilities in Ukraine, recently declaring that while “the world needs peace,” that peace cannot be based “on the balance of arms or mutual fear.”
The Catholic leader last month acknowledged that the war may have been “provoked,” citing a conversation with an unnamed head of state who commented that NATO was “barking at the gates of Russia” in a way that was all but certain to provoke a conflict. He also claimed World War III was underway and had been for several years.
Last week, the Pope revealed that he plans to visit Kiev and possibly Moscow in the coming months, believing such a visit “would have positive results,” according to Vatican Secretary for Relations with States Monsignor Paul Richard Gallagher.
No Pope has yet visited Moscow, and Francis’ previous request to do so was reportedly turned down, with Russia stating it was not the right time for such a visit.
In addition to urging his followers to pray for peace in Ukraine, the Catholic leader also called on them to pray for the people of Sri Lanka, whose government recently collapsed due to widespread fuel and food shortages.