During the General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis made a heartfelt appeal for peace in Ukraine, saying that the threat of war had caused “great pain in my heart.”
“Despite the diplomatic efforts of the last few weeks,” the Pope said, “increasingly alarming scenarios are opening up,” with many people all over the world feeling anguish and pain.
He also prayed that “all the parties involved refrain from any action that would cause even more suffering to the people, destabilizing coexistence between nations and bringing international law into disrepute.”
Speaking at the end of the General Audience, Pope Francis invited everyone to make 2 March, Ash Wednesday, a Day of Fasting for Peace.
“I encourage believers in a special way to dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war,” he said.
As the threat of war looms in Eastern Europe, the United States sought to put pressure on Russia on Wednesday by stepping up sanctions.
The U.S., the European Union, Britain, Australia, Canada, and Japan planned to target banks and elites while Germany froze a major gas pipeline project from Russia.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Britain would stop Russia from selling sovereign debt in London.
The moves come after Russia deployed troops in separatist regions of eastern Ukraine.