Threat of war in Ukraine causes pontiff "great pain in my heart".Pope Francis on Wednesday urged all sides in the Russia-Ukraine dispute to "seriously examine their consciences before God", amid fears of a Russian invasion.
The pontiff said he is praying for all parties involved to "refrain from any action that will cause even more suffering" and "discredit international law".
He also called for a day of fasting for peace on 2 March, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent in the Christian calendar.
In a statement on Tuesday, Italian premier Mario Draghi described Russia's recognition of the separatist regions as "an unacceptable violation of the democratic sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine."
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