Pope Francis described the war in Ukraine on Sunday as a “macabre regression of humanity” and declared the city of Mariupol had been “barbarously 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 from Moscow in hopes of keeping space open for meditation.
In a 15-minute address to thousands 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 his calls for the creation of “safe humanitarian corridors” for those stranded in Mariupol. Over the weekend, Ukrainian and Russian sources reported that a small group of people managed to escape from the besieged city Azovstal Steel Plant. But some 1,000 people are still believed to be trapped inside.
Describing the conflict as “a macabre regression of humanity”, the pope also wondered aloud if there was any real will to avoid an ongoing military and verbal escalation and to “silence the guns”. .
“I suffer and I cry thinking of the suffering of the Ukrainian people, especially the weakest, the elderly, the children,” he said.