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'I ask you, stop this massacre': Pope Francis condemns 'barbaric' killing of children in Ukraine 

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The Pope has said the bombings of children’s hospitals and civilian targets in the Russian invasion of Ukraine are ‘barbaric’ and have ‘no valid strategic reason’.

The 85-year-old said Ukrainians are being massacred and that he is ‘begging for an end to the war’, in his Sunday address at the Vatican.

Pope Francis spoke to the crowds gathered at St Peter’s Square this morning and said: ‘In the name of God, let the cry of the suffering people be heard, and let the bombings and attacks stop.

‘In the name of God, I ask you, stop this massacre.’

Pope Francis (pictured at the weekly Angelus service) said that Ukrainians are being massacred, turning cities like Mariupol into cemeteries and called for the Russian invasion to stop

Pope Francis (pictured at the weekly Angelus service) said that Ukrainians are being massacred, turning cities like Mariupol into cemeteries and called for the Russian invasion to stop

Crowds gathered to show support for Ukraine (pictured) during Pope Francis' Angelus noon prayer in St.Peter's Square, at the Vatican

Crowds gathered to show support for Ukraine (pictured) during Pope Francis’ Angelus noon prayer in St.Peter’s Square, at the Vatican

Many signs and flags calling for peace were on display as Pope Francis lead the recitation of the Angelus prayer, where he called the Russian invasion 'barbaric'

Many signs and flags calling for peace were on display as Pope Francis lead the recitation of the Angelus prayer, where he called the Russian invasion ‘barbaric’

The head of the Catholic Church prayed to the Virgin Mary and the city that bears her name – Mariupol.

He said the Mariupol has become a city of martyrs in the ongoing war in Ukraine.

More than 1,500 people have died in the besieged city and the deputy mayor claimed the area had been ‘totally destroyed’.

Thousands of its inhabitants remain without food, water, electricity or heat as relentless shelling continued to blast shops and residential apartments.

Russia bombed a children’s and maternity hospital on Wednesday in Mariupol, killing at least three people, including a six-year-old girl.

Pope Francis called for an end to the armed aggression, before it reduces ‘cities to cemeteries’, and he expressed horror over the ‘barbaric’ killing of children, innocents and unarmed civilians.

‘With pain in my heart I join my voice to that of the common people, who implore an end to the war,’ he said.

‘Let there be a real and decisive focus on negotiation, and let the humanitarian corridors be effective and safe.’

The head of the Catholic Church asked those in attendance to pray in silence for those suffering in Ukraine

The head of the Catholic Church asked those in attendance to pray in silence for those suffering in Ukraine

Crowds presented a variety of banners (pictured) reading peace in different languages while they waited for Pope Francis' prayer to begin

Crowds presented a variety of banners (pictured) reading peace in different languages while they waited for Pope Francis’ prayer to begin

Pope Francis called for an end to the armed aggression and denounced the'barbaric' killing of children, innocents and unarmed civilians

Pope Francis called for an end to the armed aggression and denounced the ‘barbaric’ killing of children, innocents and unarmed civilians

It was the Pope's third Angelus address in a row where he has called for peace after Russia declared war on Ukraine

It was the Pope’s third Angelus address in a row where he has called for peace after Russia declared war on Ukraine

In his Angelus address to the world Pope Francis asked for refugees to be welcomed while expressing his gratitude for the great network of solidarity that exists.

He also asked that all diocesan and religious communities increase their efforts in praying for peace.

He added: ‘God is only God of peace, he is not God of war, and those who support violence profane his name.’

In conclusion, he asked everyone in the Square to pray in silence for those suffering and for God to convert hearts to a firm will for peace.

It his last address, the Pope said: ‘Rivers of blood and tears are flowing in Ukraine. This is not just a military operation but a war which is sowing death, destruction and misery.’

The words Russia and Ukraine are part of a banner praising peace shown by faithful during Pope Francis' Angelus noon prayer

The words Russia and Ukraine are part of a banner praising peace shown by faithful during Pope Francis’ Angelus noon prayer

Pope Francis said from the window of the apostolic palace (pictured), that there should be a great focus on negotiation and the humanitarian corridors

Pope Francis said from the window of the apostolic palace (pictured), that there should be a great focus on negotiation and the humanitarian corridors

The Catholic leader also dispatched two cardinals to Ukraine last week in an unusual move, saying that ‘the Holy See is willing to do everything to put itself in service for peace.

The papal almsgiver, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, a Polish priest, has been dispatched with aid, along with Cardinal Michael Czerny, who is head of the papal office that deals with migration, charity, justice and peace.

In his February 27 address, the first after the invasion began, Pope Francis’ focus was still on humanitarian corridors and the innocent civilians.

He said: ‘Those who wage war, those who provoke war, forget humanity. They do not start from the people, they do not look at the real life of people, but place partisan interests and power before all else.

‘They trust in the diabolical and perverse logic of weapons, which is the furthest from the will of God. And they distance themselves from ordinary people, who want peace, and who are the real victims in every conflict, who pay for the follies of war with their own skin.

‘I think of the elderly, of those who are seeking refuge in these hours, of mothers fleeing with their children… They are brothers and sisters for whom it is urgent to open humanitarian corridors, and who should be welcomed.’

The Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and MailOnline UKRAINE REFUGEE APPEAL

Readers of Mail Newspapers and MailOnline have always shown immense generosity at times of crisis.

Calling upon that human spirit, we are now launching an appeal to raise money for refugees from Ukraine.

For, surely, no one can fail to be moved by the heartbreaking images and stories of families – mostly women, children, the infirm and elderly – fleeing from Russia’s invading armed forces.

As this tally of misery increases over the coming days and months, these innocent victims of a tyrant will require accommodation, schools and medical support.

All donations to the Mail Ukraine Appeal will be distributed to charities and aid organisations providing such essential services.

In the name of charity and compassion, we urge all our readers to give swiftly and generously.

TO MAKE A DONATION ONLINE 

Donate at www.mailforcecharity.co.uk/donate 

To add Gift Aid to a donation – even one already made – complete an online form found here: mymail.co.uk/ukraine

Via bank transfer, please use these details:

Account name: Mail Force Charity

Account number: 48867365

Sort code: 60-00-01

TO MAKE A DONATION VIA CHEQUE

Make your cheque payable to ‘Mail Force’ and post it to: Mail Newspapers Ukraine Appeal, GFM, 42 Phoenix Court, Hawkins Road, Colchester, Essex CO2 8JY

TO MAKE A DONATION FROM THE US

US readers can donate to the appeal via a bank transfer to Associated Newspapers or by sending checks to dailymail.com HQ at 51 Astor Place (9th floor), New York, NY 10003

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