ROME, Dec 8 – Pope Francis broke down and cried on Thursday as he referred to the suffering of Ukrainians during a traditional prayer in central Rome.
The Pope’s voice began to shake at the mention of Ukrainians and he had to stop, unable to speak, for about 30 seconds. His voice broke as he continued to pray.
The crowd, including the mayor of Rome, Roberto Gualtieri, who was right next to the pope, applauded when they realized he could not speak and saw him crying.
Francis broke down during the traditional prayer to the Madonna at the foot of the statue on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a public holiday in Italy.
“Immaculate Virgin, today I would like to bring you the thanks of the Ukrainian people,” he said before he was overcome with emotion and had to stop.
When he was able, he continued: “Instead, I must once again present to you the pleas of the children, the old, the fathers and mothers, the young people of that tormented land that is suffering so much.”
Since Russia invaded its neighbor in February, Francis has mentioned Ukraine in nearly all of his public appearances and has increasingly criticized Moscow.