In his video message on Saturday, March 12, he said that there were “mountains of corpses, rivers of blood, and seas of tears” in Ukraine.
“With pain in our hearts, we see how in besieged cities, for example in Mariupol, thousands of people are laid to rest without prayer, without Christian honor, without a Christian burial, in enormous, unnamed mass graves with thousands of people,” he said.
The Associated Press reported on March 14 the death of a pregnant woman who was photographed being carried on a stretcher after the bombing of a maternity ward in Mariupol, known as the “City of Mary.”
Meanwhile, President Alexander Lukashenko reportedly sent a congratulatory message to Pope Francis on March 13, on the ninth anniversary of his election. Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, expressed hope that he would meet the pope in person in the near future, reported Italy’s Agenzia Nova.
On Monday, Pope Francis received Eduard Heger, the prime minister of Slovakia, a country that has received more than 200,000 people from Ukraine since the full-scale Russian invasion on Feb. 24.
The Holy See press office said that Heger also met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and “foreign minister” Archbishop Paul Gallagher.
The talks included “an in-depth discussion of the war in Ukraine and its impact at regional and international level, with particular attention to the humanitarian situation and the reception of war refugees,” the press office said.
The pope met the same day with Edgars Rinkēvičs, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Latvia, which borders Russia.
Pope Francis sent two Vatican cardinals last week as papal envoys to Ukraine. Cardinal Michael Czerny, interim prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, returned to Rome on March 11, while papal almoner Cardinal Konrad Krajewski left Ukraine on March 12.
In his video message on Monday, Major Archbishop Shevchuk thanked the pope for addressing the war in his Sunday Angelus address.
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“I also want to thank very much the Holy Father, Pope Francis, who once more yesterday stood in defense of the cities of the martyrs of Ukraine, in defense of the martyred city of Mariupol, where once more this night and throughout all of yesterday more than a hundred people died,” he said.