The Ukrainian army asks the Pope for help from the “hell” of Mariupol
“I turn to you for help: the time has come when prayers alone are no longer enough.” Thus begins the letter written by the commander of the 36th Brigade of Ukrainian Marines, Sergi Volina, who is defending Mariupol, to Pope Francis.
The Ukrainian army is appealing directly to the Pontiff to demand concrete help for this port city besieged by Russian troops. As he tells her, it has become “hell on Earth”.
Specifically, Volina urges the Pope to intervene to evacuate the civilians who are still in Mariupol – where some 100,000 people still remain – and save their lives “from the hands of Satan, who wants to burn all living beings”.
“Prayers are no longer enough”, says a Ukrainian fighter in a letter to the Pontiff
“You have surely seen everything in this life. But I am sure that he has never seen what is happening now in Mariúpol, ”says the soldier, who confesses that he is Orthodox and not Catholic, to Jorge Mario Bergoglio. “I don’t have time to describe all the horrors of what I see every day,” he continues. Women with children living in bunkers. They are cold and they are hungry. Every day they are under fire from enemy aircraft. The wounded die every day because there is no medicine, no water, no food.”
It is not the only request that Francis has received these days directly from Ukrainian representatives. Iván Fedorov, the mayor of the city of Melitopol, a town located relatively close to Mariúpol that has fallen into the hands of Russian troops, has called on the Pontiff to intercede with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to guarantee humanitarian corridors for the city in the sea of Azov.
Fedorov was kidnapped in early March by Russian troops and released shortly afterward in a prisoner swap. “It was six dangerous days because I understood that my life and the lives of civilians are worth nothing to the Russians,” he acknowledged in an interview for the Italian newspaper The Messaggero , describing the hours of “harsh” interrogations during his detention. These days he has come to Rome to participate in some of the Easter ceremonies in the Vatican, and met personally on Saturday with Francis and with the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin. “They wanted it to be an example of what would happen if we didn’t accept what the Russians wanted,” Fedorov said, saying he has suffered psychological but not physical torture. Yesterday, Fedorov met with Italian politicians such as the Secretary of the Democratic Party, Enrico Letta, or the President of Parliament, Roberto Fico.
The war in Ukraine has overshadowed the Holy Week celebrations of the Holy See, causing a real diplomatic stumble after the Vatican was forced to change one of the texts of the Way of the Cross on Good Friday after receiving criticism for having joined a Russian woman and a Ukrainian woman in one of the meditations.
Fedorov, like President Volodymyr Zelensky, has invited the Pontiff to the country, promising to guarantee his safety. The Pope has already said that he is available to come to Kyiv if his presence can help resolve the conflict, but to date his attempts at mediation and calls for him to stop the fighting have been unsuccessful. In his pre-blessing message Urbi et orbi on Easter Sunday, the Pope referred to the threat of a nuclear war and once again called for an end to this “cruel and senseless” war.