Pope Francis has again asked the world's Christians to pray for Ukraine and urged the parties involved in the conflict to engage in dialogue, reports the Catholic News Service.
As uncertainty reigned in Ukraine and Russian troops appeared to have control of the Crimean peninsula, Francis told tens of thousands of people gathered in St Peter's Square on Sunday that: 'I ask you again to pray for Ukraine, which is in a very delicate situation.'
'While I hope that all sectors of the country will endeavour to overcome misunderstandings and build the future of the nation together,' the Pope said, 'I make a heartfelt appeal to the international community to support every initiative in favour of dialogue and harmony.'
After Russian troops entered Crimea, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, issued a statement on Saturday saying: 'Ukraine, unfortunately, has been pulled into a military conflict. So far no one is shooting, so far people are not dying, but it is obvious that military intervention has already begun.'
'Our people and our country are currently in danger,' the Archbishop said. 'We must stand up for our country, to be ready - if necessary - to sacrifice our lives in order to protect the sovereign, free, independent, and unified state,' he said in the statement distributed by the Catholic magazine Credo.
Photo: Protestors take refuge and pray for peace in one of two tent-chapels on Maidan Square in Kiev.