Vatican City: Pope Francis has kissed a battered Ukrainian flag that was brought to him from the Ukrainian city of Bucha and called again for an end to the war.
Francis welcomed a half-dozen Ukrainian children up to the stage of the Vatican audience hall at the end of his Wednesday general audience and gave them each a giant chocolate Easter egg. He urged prayers for them and for all Ukrainians.
He told the crowd: These children had to flee to arrive in a safe place. This is the fruit of war.
The pontiff held up a grimy Ukrainian flag that he said had arrived the previous day at the Vatican from Bucha, where evidence has emerged of what appears to be intentional killings of civilians during the city’s occupation by Russian troops.
Kissing it, he said: This flag comes from the war, from that martyred city Bucha… Let us not forget them. Let us not forget the people of Ukraine.