“We place the people of Ukraine under the protection of the Holy Family, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Most Holy Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary, and the holy and righteous St Joseph the Betrothed,” he said.
Tetiana Stawnychy, the president of Caritas Ukraine, a Catholic charity, expressed concern that Ukraine is heading for a humanitarian catastrophe, adding that there were already 2.9 million people on both sides of the contact line who were in need of humanitarian assistance before the attack.
"The events which began early this morning will inevitably lead to a colossal humanitarian catastrophe," Stawnychy said.
"It is impossible to believe that in the 21st century in the center of Europe people have to wake up at 5 am from explosions and the sound of air raid sirens," she said.
Archbishop Wojciech Polak, the primate of Poland, called Feb. 24 a “tragic morning” in a message sent to the leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
“On this tragic morning, joining in pain and asking God to stop the Soviet occupier, I remember in prayer and cry for peace for the beloved Ukrainian people,” Polak wrote in the text message, according to the Catholic Church in Poland.
English Cardinal Vincent Nichols underlined that dialogue and negotiation are the only way forward.
"The international community must unite in seeking an end to this conflict through peaceful means ... It is their responsibility to ensure that international law and territorial sovereignty are respected," Nichols said.
"We must also keep in mind the plight of those who will become refugees as a result of this attack."
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The cardinal said that he would be offering a Mass for the intentions of the victims of the conflict and their families, adding that he was praying for the Ukrainian people's "strength and perseverance under this onslaught."
Russian military breached the border of Ukraine at several points on the morning of Feb. 24. Ukrainian officials reported shelling and missile strikes across Ukraine, including at airfields and military headquarters near Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv.
Ukrainian officials said, as of almost 3:00 p.m. local time, that Russia had carried out 203 attacks across the country since before dawn, according to Reuters.
Both military and civilian deaths have been reported.
According to BBC News, on Thursday Russian military crossed into Ukraine not only from points on the Russian border, but also from Belarus, a Russian ally.
Bishop Oleg Butkevich, the head of the Catholic bishops’ conference of Belarus, commented that “the world was shaken by the tragic news that a military conflict has broken out between our neighboring countries.”