The Vatican has also offered to mediate negotiations between Ukraine and Russia but has not received a reply from the Russian Ambassador in Rome.
THE Ukrainian Embassy and the Holy See have shared details on the phone conversation between Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Pope Francis last February 26.
“The Holy Father expressed his deepest sorrow for the tragic events taking place in our country,” the embassy wrote.
Zelenskyy also took the time to post on Twitter to thank the Holy Father’s prayers for peace and a ceasefire. “The Ukrainian people feel the spiritual support of His Holiness,” he wrote.
Tuesday marks the sixth day of fighting in Ukraine, after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to advance into the country in the early morning of Feb. 24.
Before their phone conversation, the Pope departed from protocol to visit the Russian embassy – headed by Ambassador Alexander Avdeev — in Rome expressing his concern about the war.
The diplomatic protocol would have called for the Vatican foreign minister to summon the Russian Ambassador. Francis’ move is seen to be an extraordinary, hands-on papal gesture.
He also reached out to the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, currently in a bunker under his cathedral in the Ukraine capital Kyiv to assure that he’ll “do everything [he] can.”
On Feb. 28, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State told local reporters that the Vatican is offering to “facilitate dialogue” between Russia and Ukraine.
“Above all, the military attack must stop immediately. We are all witnesses to its tragic consequences,” Parolin told a handful of Italian newspapers.
He called for the avoidance of any military escalation, an end to the violence, and the opening of peace talks.
Pope Francis has called for dialogue to end the conflict and has called upon the lay and faithful to set Ash Wednesday, March 2, as a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Ukraine.
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