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People hold up the Ukrainian flag in St Peter’s Square, March 6, 2022 (CNS/Vatican Media)

Pope Francis has again appealed for a “general exchange of all prisoners between Russia and Ukraine”. Source: Vatican News.

Speaking yesterday during the Regina Caeli, the Pope noted that his appeal falls on the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Risen Lord “who wants us to be free, and who sets us free”.

He went on to assure all parties involved that the Holy See remains ready to facilitate every effort in this regard, especially for those who are seriously wounded and sick.”

And he renewed his constant appeal for prayers for peace: “Let us continue to pray for peace, in Ukraine, in Palestine, in Israel, in Myanmar… let us pray for peace!” he said.

So far, Russia and Ukraine have conducted over 50 prisoner exchanges since the beginning of the war, involving several thousand prisoners.

Last January, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky mentioned that some 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been liberated following these agreements.

Pope Francis has consistently urged the releases, including on Easter Sunday when he said: “In calling for respect for the principles of international law, I express my hope for a general exchange of all prisoners between Russia and Ukraine: all for the sake of all!” 

During his April 17 general audience address, he said: “Let us think of the prisoners of war… May the Lord move wills so they may all be freed. And speaking of prisoners, those who are tortured come to mind. The torture of prisoners is a horrible thing. It is not human.”

Pope Francis has also entrusted Cardinal Matteo Zuppi with undertaking humanitarian missions to war-torn nations and tasked him, amongst other responsibilities, with focusing on the exchange of prisoners and the repatriation of Ukrainian children from Russia.


Pope: Holy See ready to facilitate exchange of Russian and Ukrainian prisoners of war (By Linda Bordoni, Vatican News)