Pope intervenes over Ukraine
Speaking during his weekly general audience, Pope Francis declared on Wednesday that the threat of war in Ukraine has caused “great pain in my heart.”
In his first public comments since tensions escalated in the region, the pontiff called on politicians to seriously examine their conscience before God about the actions they are taking, although he stopped short of naming specific individuals.
The Pope urged leaders on all sides to abstain from any further decisions that could cause suffering for individuals, declaring upcoming Ash Wednesday, on March 2, an international day of fasting and prayer for peace.
The declaration comes amid tensions between Western nations and Russia over Moscow’s recognition of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR). Russian President Vladimir Putin formally signed decrees on Monday recognizing the breakaway republics in the Donbass region.
In response, the European Union, United Kingdom and United States issued a series of sanctions on Russian entities and individuals, condemning Putin’s actions as having “flagrantly violated” the 2014 Minsk Protocol.
In a video released on Wednesday morning, following criticism from Western nations, Putin was clear that Moscow is looking for “diplomatic solutions” over the situation but made it clear that the security of Russian citizens is “non-negotiable.” Nonetheless, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the decision to recognize the republics “judicial aggression,” but stopped short of declaring martial law in the country.