Pope Francis spoke about the situation in Ukraine for the first time since Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of the Dontesk and Luhansk regions.
The Pope expressed his concern for the worsening situation during his General Audience at the Vatican.
'My heart is very pained because of the deteriorating situation in Ukraine. Despite diplomatic efforts that have been made in these past weeks, increasingly alarming scenarios are playing out. Like me, many people all over the world are anguished and worried. Once again, everyone's peace is threatened by one side's interests. I would like to appeal to those with political responsibilities, so that they can make a serious examination of conscience before God, who is the God of peace and not of war; who is the Father of all, not only of some; who wants us to be brothers and sisters, not enemies. I ask all parties involved to refrain from any action that could bring even more suffering to the people, disturbing the coexistence among nations and undermining international law.
And now, I would like to appeal to everyone, believers and non-believers. Jesus taught us that to the diabolic insensitivity of violence we must respond with God's weapons: with prayer and fasting. I invite everyone to observe this March 2, Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting for peace. I encourage, in a special way, believers, so that they will dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting. May the Queen of peace preserve the world from the folly of war.'