Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle lamented on Tuesday the killing of seven people at a Caritas center in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
The president of Caritas Internationalis, a Vatican-based umbrella body for Catholic relief groups around the world, said on April 12 that he felt “deep sadness and shock.”
“Caritas Internationalis expresses its profound sympathies and closeness to the families of those who lost their lives and were wounded,” the Filipino cardinal told Vatican News, the online news portal of the Holy See.
“Our sadness turns into an appeal to the international community to exert every effort to bring this violence to an end, to return to dialogue, and to see a brother and sister in every person.”
It emerged on Monday that a Russian tank fired on the Caritas center in Mariupol, killing two employees and five family members who had sought refuge in the building. The incident is believed to have taken place on March 15.
The office was run by Caritas Ukraine, a charitable organization overseen by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
Caritas Ukraine said on April 11 that the two Caritas workers killed were accounting staff.
Tetiana Stawnychy, the president of Caritas Ukraine, said: “We need your solidarity and prayers for the families of the victims, for the community of Caritas Mariupol, and the community of Caritas Ukraine.”
Aloysius John, secretary general of Caritas Internationalis, expressed dismay at the deaths.
“This dramatic news leaves our Caritas family horrified and shocked,” he said. “We join in grief and solidarity with the suffering of the families and our colleagues of Caritas Ukraine who are living a tragedy.”
Mariupol, a port city in southeastern Ukraine, was attacked by Russian forces on Feb. 24, the first day of the full-scale invasion of the country.
Ukrainian fighters have continued to resist the Russian advance on the city despite relentless bombing that has destroyed many buildings and killed thousands of people.
Cardinal Tagle, who is also the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said: “We honor the sacrifice of humanitarian workers by praying for them and their families. We believe that God hears the cry of the poor and the just.”
“We honor them by affirming the value of the service rendered by humanitarian organizations that must be respected.”
“We honor them by praying to God and appealing to people of goodwill to think of and work for peace.”