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Pope laments ‘macabre’ Ukraine war and ‘barbarous’ bombardment of Mariupol

Pope Francis on Sunday described the war in Ukraine as a “macabre regression of humanity” and said the city of Mariupol had been “barbarously bombarded 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 open space for meditation.

In a 15-minute speech to thousands of people in Saint Peter’s Square, the pope said that his “thoughts go immediately to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, the city of Mary, barbarously bombarded and destroyed.” For Catholics, the month of May is dedicated to Mary, the mother of God.

Shortly after his address, the pope then took to Twitter to spread his message in Ukrainian, Russian and English.

The pope also renewed calls for “safe humanitarian corridors” to be established for people trapped in Mariupol. Over the weekend, both Ukrainian and Russian sources reported that a small group of people managed to escape the city’s besieged Azovstal steelworks. But some 1,000 people are reported to be still trapped inside.

In describing the conflict as “a macabre regression of humanity,” the pope also wondered aloud whether there was a real willingness to avoid an ongoing military and verbal escalation and to “silence the weapons.”

“I suffer and I cry thinking of the suffering of the Ukrainian people, in particular the weakest, the elderly, children,” he said.

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