Pope Francis pleads for peace in Ukraine, warns of nuclear risk

Pope Francis
Pope Francis attends the Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square on April 17 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Francis presided over the Easter celebrations in sun and flower-filled St. Peter's Square, crowded with pilgrims in a way not seen since before the pandemic. "May there be peace for war-torn Ukraine," the Pope prayed, and that "in this terrible night of suffering and death, may a new dawn of hope soon appear!"
Franco Origlia—Getty Images

Pope Francis made a plea on Easter Sunday to end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and warned of the threat of nuclear warfare.

“May there be peace for war-torn Ukraine, so sorely tried by the violence and destruction of this cruel and senseless war into which it was dragged,” the pontiff said from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. 

Francis quoted from a 1955 manifesto on nuclear proliferation by physicist Albert Einstein and philosopher Bertrand Russell: “‘Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war?’”  

Ukraine warned of a possible Russian naval landing operation at Mariupol in addition to new air strikes. Russia called on remaining forces in the besieged city to surrender. Many are thought to be within the massive Azovstal steelworks; Moscow said “foreign mercenaries” are among them, citing intercepted conversations.

Air raid sirens were heard in Kyiv for a second day, with a missile strike reported nearby. Troops continue to move from positions within Russia and from Belarus toward eastern Ukraine ahead of what’s likely to be a protracted conflict.  

Billionaire Roman Abramovich is attempting to restart talks between Ukraine and Russia. Ukrainian officials are heading to Washington for this week’s meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Ukraine’s economy may shrink by as much as half, Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko said. The EU allocated additional humanitarian aid to help the millions of displaced Ukrainians. 

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