Francis has continuously urged for peace since the start of the invasion on Feb. 24 and questioned during his comments after the Regina Caeli prayer in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday if peace was being sought.
“While we are witnessing a macabre regression of humanity, I wonder, along with so many anguished people, if peace is truly being sought; whether there is the will to avoid a continued military and verbal escalation; whether everything possible is being done to silence the weapons,” Francis said.
“I beg you, let us not surrender to the logic of violence, to the perverse spiral of weapons. May the path of dialogue and peace be taken!”
Francis also renewed requests that safe humanitarian corridors be arranged for the civilians sheltering in the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged city of Mariupol as residents trapped by the fighting have suffered a humanitarian crisis from shortages of necessities like food, water and medicine.
Ukrainian and Russian officials said Sunday that the process had started to evacuate the civilians from the steel plant and that dozens were already en route to control areas to meet with Ukrainian officials.
“I suffer and weep, thinking of the sufferings of the Ukrainian people, and in particular, the weakest, the elderly and children,” Francis said.
“There are even terrible reports of children being expelled and deported.”
Francis also made comments ahead of the World Press Freedom Day established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. UNESCO will observe World Press Freedom Day on Tuesday.
“I pay homage to journalists who pay with their lives to serve this right. Last year, 47 journalists were killed worldwide, and more than 350 were imprisoned,” Francis said. “Special thanks go to those who courageously inform us of the wounds of humanity.”
The pope’s comments also came as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led the first official delegation of lawmakers to Ukraine and became the most senior United States official to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky since Russia invaded on Feb. 24.
Pelosi said that Zelensky “conveyed the clear need” for continued assistance from the United States “to address the devastating human toll taken on the Ukrainian people by Putin’s diabolic invasion.”
She said that she told the Ukrainian president that more assistance would come soon.