In the letter, Pope Francis recalled his consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25.
He said: “May Our Lady, his Mother and ours, watch over you. To her Immaculate Heart, in union with the bishops of the world, I have consecrated the Church and humanity, especially your country and Russia.”
“To her Motherly Heart, I present your sufferings and your tears.”
Pope Francis has frequently prayed for “martyred Ukraine” in his public audiences since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February.
His letter to the Ukrainian people was signed exactly one week after he met privately with Ukrainian Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki of Lviv and Bishop Jan Sobiło, an auxiliary bishop of Kharkiv-Zaporizhia in Ukraine and that the Vatican Secretary of State offered a Mass for peace in Ukraine.
The pope’s letter mentioned the “genocide of Holodomor,” the man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine that killed millions of people between 1932 and 1933, and the continued fortitude of the Ukrainian people today.
“Even in the immense tragedy they are suffering, the Ukrainian people have never been discouraged or given over to self-pity. The world has recognized a bold and strong people, a people who suffer and pray, weep and struggle, resist and hope: a noble and martyred people,” Francis said.
“I continue to stand by you with my heart and prayer and with humanitarian concern that you may feel accompanied, that you may not get used to war, that you may not be left alone today and especially tomorrow when the temptation to forget your suffering will perhaps come.”
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.