Cardinal Parolin ‘Dismayed’ at Russian Bombing of Hospital

Reiterates the Holy See’s Desire to Mediate if Requested

Dismayed at Russian Bombing of Hospital
File photo of Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin © Vatican News

Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said Wednesday night that he is “dismayed” at the Russian bombing of a pediatric hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, and reiterates the Holy See’s desire to mediate if requested.

His remark came in response to questions from reporters and was reported by Vatican News.

A Russian air raid struck a children’s hospital on the southern port city of Mariupol on Wednesday, killing at least three people, including a child.

The Mariupol city council confirmed the airstrike on the hospital’s maternity ward, which wounded at least 17 people, including doctors, children, and women waiting to give birth. The head of the Donetsk regional administration said the attack took place during a ceasefire agreed with Russian authorities.

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, criticized attacks on hospitals, in response to a reporter’s question at a conference in Rome on Wednesday evening. He said the bombing of medical centers for women and children is unacceptable, no matter the reason.

“End fighting” was the message Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, delivered Tuesday in a call to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Cardinal Parolin reiterated the Pope’s appeal for peace and offered the Holy See’s availability for any type of mediation, confirmed the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni.

“The Cardinal conveyed Pope Francis’ deep concern for the ongoing war in Ukraine and reaffirmed what the Pope said last Sunday at the Angelus. In particular, he reiterated his call for an end to armed attacks, for humanitarian corridors to be secured for civilians and rescuers, and for negotiation instead of armed violence.”

The Vatican continues to offer aid and comfort to victims of the invasion. Two Vatican Cardinal are carrying the prayers of Pope Francis and aid to Ukrainian refugees.

In what the Vatican called “an extraordinary gesture,” Pope Francis announced at the Angelus in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, March 6, that he has dispatched two Cardinals as expressions of the Church’s solidarity with the suffering Ukrainian people: Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Almoner, and Cardinal Michael Czerny, the Prefect ad interim of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

In his comments last night, Cardinal Parolin also raised concerns about Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill’s homily on Sunday.

Kirill, in a sermon delivered Sunday before the start of Orthodox Lent, echoed Russian President Putin’s claims that Ukraine was engaged in the “extermination” of Russian loyalists in Donbas, the breakaway eastern region of Ukraine held since 2014 by two Russian-backed separatist groups. Kirill focused virtually all of his talk about the war on Donbas with no mention of Russia’s widespread invasion and its bombardment of civilian targets, reported Associated Press.

Kirill on Sunday depicted the war in spiritual terms: “We have entered into a struggle that has not a physical, but a metaphysical significance,” he said, contending that some of the Donbas separatists were suffering for their “fundamental rejection of the so-called values that are offered today by those who claim world power.”

Cardinal Parolin said the Patriarch’s statements do not encourage or promote an understanding, adding that his words risk further inflaming tempers leading to an escalation that does not resolve the crisis in a peaceful way.