“The bombing of a children’s hospital is unacceptable”, Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, stressed on the margins of a conference in Rome on Wednesday evening, 9 March, expressing his concern.
The Cardinal's statement came shortly after reports from the head of the Donetsk regional military administration, that a Russian air raid had struck a hospital in the southern port city of Mariupol with maternity and paediatric wards. Cardinal Parolin admitted that the space for negotiations is slight, but expressed his hope that some agreement could be reached. Referring to a phone call he had with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier this week, he said that no guarantees had been offered and that Mr Lavrov had not offered any reassurances regarding safe humanitarian corridors.
The Secretary of State reiterated that the Holy See is always ready to engage in diplomacy with all parties, even as it calls for an end to the war. The Holy See has called for a stop to conflicts and for negotiations to be consolidated, making itself available to mediate if it is deemed it may help.
Pope Francis has sent two Cardinals to the Ukraine — Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Papal Almoner, and Cardinal Michael Czerny, the interim Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Their presence is a sign of the Pope’s desire to contribute, not only on spiritual, material, and diplomatic levels, but also on that of humanitarian aid.
Finally, the Cardinal referred to recent comments made by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. The Patriarch’s statements, he said, do not encourage or promote an understanding, adding that his words risked further inflaming tempers, leading to an escalation that does not resolve the crisis in a peaceful way.