Pope Francis described the war in Ukraine on Sunday as a “grim regression of humanity” and said that the city of Mariupol had been “barbarically bombed and destroyed.”
However, the Pope did not specifically say that Russia was responsible for the war or the assault on Mariupol, in keeping with the Vatican’s controversial policy of avoiding direct criticism of Moscow in the hope of keeping space open for meditation.
In a 15-minute address to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square, the pope said his “thoughts go immediately to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, the city of Mary, barbarously bombed and destroyed.” For Catholics, the month of May is dedicated to Mary, the mother of God.
The pope also renewed calls for “safe humanitarian corridors” to be established for people trapped in Mariupol. Over the weekend, Ukrainian and Russian sources reported that a small group of people managed to escape from the besieged city. Azovstal Steelworks. But some 1,000 people are reportedly still trapped inside.
Describing the conflict as “a macabre regression of humanity,” the Pope also wondered aloud if there was a real will to prevent an ongoing military and verbal escalation and to “silence the guns.”
“I suffer and cry thinking about the suffering of the Ukrainian people, in particular the weakest, the elderly, the children,” he said.