Pope Francis: “Cardinal Krajewski in Ukraine to show my closeness”

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Pope Francis renews his prayers for the Ukrainian people amid the ongoing war and says he has sent Cardinal Konrad Krajewski to the country to offer his practical closeness and that of the Church.

By Stefan J. Bos & Devin Watkins

“We continue to pray for the people of Ukraine, may the Lord give them comfort and hope.”

Pope Francis made the appeal on Sunday as he addressed pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus prayer.

The Pope also recalled that he had sent Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Service of Charity, to Ukraine to visit various communities and “offer concrete witness to the closeness of the Pope and the Church.”

The Holy See’s press office announced on Wednesday the Polish-born cardinal’s fourth visit to the country. He will visit the cities of Odessa, Žytomyr, Kharkiv and other places in eastern Ukraine.

Nuclear Fusion Concerns

Pope Francis’ appeal comes as the situation at Russia’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant continues to worry international experts.

The agency in charge of the site in Ukraine, Energoatom, said that the plant’s operations had been entirely interrupted, explaining that a restoration of the power supply to the plant had allowed it to do the safest thing and demolish its sixth and last working reactor.

Yet concerns remain as Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of bombing the site, risking a nuclear disaster.

As a result, Kyiv has urged locals to evacuate Russian-occupied areas around the plant for their own safety. But, without the plant operating as usual, Ukraine is facing energy supply difficulties before winter.

The plant, operational since 1984, represented 40% of the total electricity produced by Ukrainian nuclear power plants and a fifth of the electricity produced in the country.

Eastern counter-offensive

The shutdown, monitored by the UN nuclear watchdog, comes amid signs that Ukraine’s military has forced the Russian military to withdraw thousands of troops after suffering a series of battlefield defeats .

Ukraine seems to have regained control of the two key cities of Kupiansk and Izyum after a recent counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region.

Take back territory

And the regional governor claims that the Ukrainian flag was also raised in the town of Balakliya. The troops entered after taking Russian forces the wrong way with a well-publicized southern Ukrainian offensive to distract Russia from the real thing being prepared in the Kharkiv region.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says his forces recaptured more than 2,000 square kilometers, or some 772 square miles, in a swift counteroffensive in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed the withdrawal of its troops from Izyum, the main base of Moscow forces in Kharkiv. However, he claimed they were regrouped so that efforts could be intensified in Donetsk.

However, Zelensky warned that Donetsk is another region in the east that Kyiv wants to take over fully one day.

“The whole Donetsk region will be liberated again, safe and happy, as it should be in Ukraine, as it should be everywhere in our territory,” the president said.

Zelensky adds: “The movement of our soldiers in different directions of the front continues within the framework of active actions. Since the beginning of September, about 2,000 kilometers of our territory have already been liberated.

The pain continues

Yet 200 days after the start of the Russian invasion, the war seems far from over, with Russian troops still holding around a fifth of the country. And there are reports of widespread torture of prisoners of war and forced deportations.

Kyiv also says Moscow is sending 1,300 Chechen fighters to the southern Kherson region, where Russian forces are under sustained pressure from Ukrainian attacks.

Tens of thousands of people, many of them soldiers, are believed to have died in Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II, which has displaced millions.

Among the victims were a woman killed and at least 20 civilians injured in Russian shelling over the weekend in the Kharkiv region.


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