"As you know at first, we do all we can to welcome everyone, but then we can get used to it, and our hearts cool a bit, and we forget about it," the pope warned.
"Let us think of these women and children who in time, without work, separated from their husbands, will be sought out by the ‘vultures’ of society. Please, let us protect them," he added.
The pope praised the work of pastors and other church leaders in Ukraine who have remained with their people throughout the crisis.
"It comforts me to know that the people left under the bombs do not lack the closeness of their pastors, who in these tragic days are living the Gospel of charity and fraternity. I have spoken with some of them on the phone during these days, they are close to the people of God," Pope Francis said.
"Thank you, dear brothers and sisters, for this witness and for the concrete support you are offering courageously to so many desperate people!" he continued. "Let us be close to this people, let us embrace them with affection, with concrete commitment and prayer."
The pope specifically mentioned the Vatican’s representative in Ukraine, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas. The apostolic nuncio to Ukraine revealed in an interview March 17 with Raymond Arroyo on “The World Over” that he has not left the nunciature in Kyiv because the situation outside is too dangerous.
Kulbokas said in the interview that while it is logistically feasible for the pope to travel to Kyiv, such a visit is unlikely to happen because continued Russian missile and artillery attacks on the city make it impossible to have public gatherings.
“I know that Pope Francis wants to do all that is possible for him in order to contribute for peace, so I know for sure that he is evaluating, he is thinking about all the possibilities,” the nuncio said.
Also on Sunday, Pope Francis also called on the faithful to join him on March 25 in praying for the consecration of Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. EWTN will broadcast the consecration ceremony at 12 noon EST.
Shannon Mullen is the Editor-in-Chief of CNA. He previously worked as a features writer, investigative reporter, and editor with the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press. He has received numerous national reporting awards and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.