UNITED NATIONS — During an emergency special session of the U.N. General Assembly March 2, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia said the Vatican joins other nations in calling for the immediate cessation of hostilities in Ukraine and a return to diplomacy and dialogue.
The archbishop, who is the Vatican’s permanent observer to the U.N., echoed the words Pope Francis said after the Angelus Feb. 27, where he expressed closeness with all who are suffering as a result of the conflict.
He also reiterated the pope’s message that it was “urgent to open humanitarian corridors” and welcome those who are fleeing and that it also was important to remember those in “wars in other parts of the world.”
Caccia said the Vatican appreciates those countries that have offered humanitarian assistance to those in need in Ukraine and in neighboring countries where Ukrainians have sought safety.
He said the Vatican is convinced there is always “time for goodwill, there is still room for negotiation, there is still a place for the exercise of a wisdom that can prevent the predominance of partisan interest, safeguard the legitimate aspirations of everyone, and spare the world from the folly and horrors of war.”
He said it was his hope the U.N’s emergency special session would help attain that end, noting the world body was founded to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and “live together in peace with one another as good neighbors.”
The previous day, Caccia’s had a message for the virtual launch of an appeal and refugee response plan for Ukraine organized by the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The Vatican welcomes the relief plan, the prelate said in a statement delivered by Msgr. Robert Murphy, deputy permanent observer at the Vatican’s U.N. mission.
It pointed out that the number of Ukrainians crossing into neighboring countries to flee ongoing hostilities was fast approaching 700,000 and that number would likely increase. In fact, as of late March 3, news reports said about 1 million Ukrainians had fled their homeland.
The U.N. nuncio’s message said the Vatican commends countries accepting refugees and assistance to those in need.
“Welcoming, protecting and assisting the hundreds of thousands of refugees is a common responsibility” and must be a priority and offered on a nondiscriminatory basis, he said.
He also noted that the Catholic Church and its charitable institutions “are already helping thousands to provide assistance and will continue to do so.”