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Pope Francis and Russian President Vladimir Putin met at the Vatican in 2015. RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Help Ukrainians survive the war: LifeFunder

(LifeSiteNews) — Vatican News reported today that Pope Francis, breaking ordinary diplomatic protocol, left the Vatican to visit in person the Russian Embassy to the Holy See “to express his concern about the war in Ukraine.”

Traditionally, the Pope receives an ambassador or head of state within the papal palaces, and according to ordinary diplomatic protocol, the Vatican foreign minister would have summoned the Russian ambassador for such a visit. Today’s intervention is unprecedented in recent ecclesiastical history. The Pope’s visit to the embassy, which is headed by Ambassador Alexander Avdeev, lasted for about 40 minutes.

The ambassador told news agency RIA Novosti afterward that the Pope “called for the protection of children, the protection of the sick and suffering, and the protection of people.”

According to Reuters, in an interview on Feb. 14, “Ukraine’s ambassador to the Vatican, Andriy Yurash, said Kyiv would be open to a Vatican mediation of the conflict.” However, Avdeev denied to news agency TASS that such mediation was brought up today by the Pope.

At his Wednesday audience on Feb. 23, Pope Francis had called on “those with political responsibility to examine their consciences seriously before God, who is the God of peace and not of war.” He then asked all Christians to pray and fast next week on Ash Wednesday for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine.

“I invite everyone to make next 2 March, Ash Wednesday, a Day of Fasting for Peace,” the Pope declared. “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.”