By Salvatore Cernuzio
Pope Francis wished to express his concern about the war in Ukraine when he went to the headquarters of the Russian Embassy to the Holy See – headed by Ambassador Alexander Avdeev — around midday Friday morning. He arrived in a white car and remained in the building on Via della Conciliazione for over half an hour, as confirmed by the director of the Vatican Press Office, Matteo Bruni.
The appeal at the General Audience
Pope Francis is closely following the evolution of the situation in the eastern European country, which has been under attack since the night of 24 February, where numerous people have already been killed and injured. Already at the General Audience on Wednesday, before the Russian invasion began, the Pope had expressed the “great sorrow in his heart” over the worsening situation in the country.
The Pope appealed ” to those with political responsibility to examine their consciences seriously before God, who is the God of peace and not of war.” And he called on believers and non-believers alike to unite in a joint supplication for peace next 2 March, Ash Wednesday, by praying and fasting. “Jesus taught us that the diabolical senselessness of violence is answered with God’s weapons, with prayer and fasting,” the Pontiff said. “I invite everyone to make next 2 March, Ash Wednesday, a Day of Fasting for Peace. I encourage believers in a special way to dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war.”
Cardinal Parolin’s statement
Yesterday, however, “in the darkest hour” for Ukraine, the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, released a statement following the start of Russian “military operations” in Ukrainian territory. Recalling the Pope’s urgent appeal, the cardinal noted that “the tragic scenarios that everyone feared are unfortunately becoming reality,” but insisted, “there is still time for goodwill, there is still room for negotiation, there is still a place for the exercise of a wisdom that can prevent the predominance of partisan interests, safeguard the legitimate aspirations of everyone, and spare the world from the folly and horrors of war.”
Cardinal Parolin concluded his statement, saying, “As believers, we do not lose hope for a glimmer of conscience on the part of those who hold in their hands the fortunes of the world. And we continue to pray and fast — as we shall do this coming Ash Wednesday — for peace in Ukraine and in the entire world.”