Pope sends cardinals as papal envoys to Ukraine

Cardinals arrive in Ukraine on mission to "serve the people, to help".

Pope Francis has sent two high-ranking Vatican officials – Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski and Canadian Cardinal Michael Czerny – as papal envoys to war-ravaged Ukraine.

Cardinal Krajewski, whose role at the Vatican is papal almoner, distributing charity in Rome on behalf of the pope, arrived in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Tuesday after stopping on the way to meet refugees and aid workers in Poland.

Known for his hands-on approach, Krajewski has helped by fuelling trucks, at the pope's expense, to ensure humanitarian aid reaches its destinations in Ukraine, reports Vatican News.

Cardinal Czerny, who heads the Vatican dicastery for Integral Human Development, arrived into Berehove, western Ukraine, on Tuesday after stopping first in Hungary where he met the country's deputy prime minister Zsolt Semjén and visited refugee centres at Barabás on the Hungarian-Ukrainian border.

Czerny has described the cardinals' joint mission as a "a double response, one of immediate charity and one of long-term integral human development", reiterating the pope's willingness "to do everything possible" for peace.

During the Sunday Angelus on 6 March, when Pope Francis announced the cardinals' mission, he decried the "rivers of blood and tears flowing" in Ukraine, saying: "War is madness, please stop."

After the bombing of a children's hospital in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on Wednesday, the Vatican's secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin told Reuters: "I say bombing a hospital is unacceptable. There are no reasons, there are no motivations, to do this."