At the conclusion of the Sunday Angelus on 15 March, Pope Francis recalled that the faithful had just prayed to the Virgin Mary, as the city that bears her name, Mariupol, has “become a city of martyrs in the terrible war ravaging Ukraine.”

The Pope expressed horror over the barbarity of the killing of children, innocents and unarmed civilians, and called for an end to the unacceptable armed aggression, before it reduces cities to cemeteries.

“With pain in my heart, I join my voice to that of the common people, who implore an end to the war,” he said.

“In the name of God, let the cries of those who suffer be heard and let the bombings and attacks cease! Let there be a real and decisive focus on negotiation, and let the humanitarian corridors be effective and safe. In the name of God, I ask you: stop this massacre!”

The Pope asked for the many people who have fled Ukraine to be welcomed, saying “Christ is present” in them.

He also expressed his gratitude for the great network of solidarity that has sprung up in response to the millions fleeing the war in Ukraine.

The Pope requested that all diocesan and religious communities increase their efforts in praying for peace.

“God is only God of peace. He is not God of war, and those who support violence profane His name.”

In conclusion, Pope Francis invited everyone present in St. Peter’s Square to pray in silence for those suffering and for God to convert hearts to a firm will for peace.

ENDS