Ukraine: Cardinal Parolin ‘dismayed’ at bombing of children’s hospital

Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin expresses his dismay 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.

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 air strike 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.

‘Unacceptable attacks on civilians’

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.

Cardinal Parolin repeated the Holy See’s willingness to mediate peace talks between Ukraine and Russia if requested.

He admitted that the space for negotiations is slight, but expressed hope some agreement could be reached.

Remains of the pediatric hospital in Mariupol

Diplomatic efforts

The Cardinal Secretary of State spoke by phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday.

Referring to that phone call, the Cardinal said no guarantees were offered and that Mr. Lavrov did not offer reassurances regarding humanitarian corridors.

Cardinal Parolin 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 in Ukraine.

Mission for peace

Pope Francis has dispatched two Cardinals to the region—Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Papal Almoner, and Cardinal Michael Czerny, the interim Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

Cardinal Parolin said their mission is a sign of the Pope’s desire to contribute to peace, on spiritual, material, and diplomatic levels.

Inflaming tensions further

Cardinal Parolin also referred to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill’s homily on Sunday.

The Cardinal 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.