Pope Expresses ‘Grave Sorrow’ Over Kyiv Children’s Hospital Strike

Pope Francis voiced “grave sorrow” over a missile strike on a Kyiv children’s hospital and expressed “deep distress” at the escalation of violence in Ukraine and Gaza, the Vatican said Tuesday.

“The Holy Father has learned with grave sorrow the news about attacks on two medical centres in Kyiv, including Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital, as well as against a school in Gaza,” it said in a statement.

Russia attacked cities across Ukraine on Monday with a missile barrage that killed more than three dozen people and ripped open the Okhmatdyt children’s hospital in Kyiv, sparking international outcry.

Russia has denied that it was responsible for the hospital strike, claiming the extensive missile damage in Kyiv was caused by Ukrainian air defence systems.

But the UN said Tuesday that analysis of video footage and an assessment at the site indicated there was a “high likelihood” the hospital in Kyiv suffered “a direct hit” from a Russian missile.

In war-ravaged Gaza, Israel has pushed on with a major military offensive.

While the pope did not refer by name to the school in Gaza, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem on Sunday protested against raids on Gaza’s Sacred Family School, which it said were “apparently launched by the Israeli army.”

It called the Catholic school a refuge for “hundreds of civilians” since the start of the war.

According to the Palestinian Territory’s Hamas-controlled civil defence agency, the school was the target of two attacks Sunday that killed at least four people, including a Hamas official.

Israel’s army said in a statement that “terrorists” had been hiding in the school, which it said also housed a weapons factory.

“The pope expresses his deep distress at the escalation of violence,” the Vatican said in the statement.

“While expressing sympathy for the victims and the innocent wounded, he hopes and prays that concrete paths can soon be identified that will put an end to the ongoing conflicts,” it added.

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