Pope Francis visits Russian embassy to Vatican ‘to show his concern’ at Ukraine conflict

Pope Francis visits Russian embassy to Vatican ‘to show his concern’ at Ukraine conflict

Pope Francis during Mass in the Sistine Chapel on Jan. 9, 2022. VATICAN MEDIA

By Hannah Brockhaus

Catholic News Agency

February 25, 2022

VATICAN— Pope Francis visited the Russian Embassy to the Holy See on Friday morning, according to the Vatican press office.

The Vatican said on Feb. 25 that the pope went to the embassy “to show his concern for the war.”

The visit lasted a little more than a half hour, the Holy See press office said.

The Russian Embassy to the Holy See is located on Via della Conciliazione, the broad street leading to St. Peter’s Basilica.

Speaking after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that wisdom was needed to save the world “from the folly and horrors of war.”

“The tragic scenes which everyone feared are unfortunately becoming reality,” Parolin said in a video statement.

On Feb. 23, a day before Russia invaded Ukraine, Pope Francis called for a day of prayer and fasting for peace on Ash Wednesday, March 2.

Expressing great sadness at the worsening situation in Ukraine, Pope Francis asked world leaders to “make a serious examination of conscience before God.”

“I have great pain in my heart over the worsening situation in Ukraine,” Pope Francis said at his public audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.

This was the second global day of prayer for Ukraine that Pope Francis has called since the crisis began to escalate in 2022.

Pope Francis has a long-standing connection with Ukraine. During a visit to the Ukrainian Catholic community in Rome in 2018, he recalled that a Ukrainian bishop in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires had taught him when he was 12 years old how to be an altar server at Eastern Rite liturgies and read the Ukrainian alphabet.

As pope, he has consistently shown his concern for Ukrainians. In 2016, he launched a charitable project, called “The Pope for Ukraine,” that has helped more than a million people.

He presided last month over a worldwide day of prayer for peace in Ukraine.

Aleksandr Avdeyev, Russia’s ambassador to the Holy See, said last week that Pope Francis could meet the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in June or July.

The Russian news agency Tass reported that Avdeyev made the comment on Feb. 18 at a Russian-Italian conference in Genoa.

“Preparations for a second meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill are underway now for around June-July,” he was quoted as saying. “The place hasn’t been chosen yet.”

Pope Francis met with Patriarch Kirill at Havana airport in Cuba on Feb. 12, 2016, in the first meeting between a pope and a Patriarch of Moscow.

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