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Pope Francis helps hundreds of POWs return home in prisoner swaps in Ukraine – The Catholic Leader appeared on catholicleader.com.au by CNS.

RUSSIA’S ambassador to the Holy See confirmed Pope Francis helped facilitate recent prisoner exchanges with Ukraine and said the Vatican was ready to act as a mediator between Ukraine and Russia.

The Italian news agency Askanews reported the ambassador, Aleksandr Avdeyev, said the exchanges of prisoners occur in accordance with the lists of military prisoners of the Armed Forces of Ukraine; the lists were handed over by Pope Francis.

“In this case, we highly appreciate the personal actions of the pontiff, who is carrying out a very important humanitarian mission that allows hundreds of people to return to their families,” Mr Avdeyev said.

Returning to the Vatican from Bahrain on November 6, Pope Francis told reporters traveling with him that the Vatican is “constantly attentive” to what is happening in Ukraine.

He said the Secretariat of State continues to do what was possible and has worked behind the scenes to help arrange prisoner exchanges.

Pope Francis also told reporters he though the cruelty of the attacks on Ukraine and its civilians were the work of mercenaries, not Russians, who were “a great people” and have a strong “humanism”.

Meeting with Jesuits in Kazakhstan in September, Pope Francis said he met with some Ukrainian envoys and government ministers, one of whom gave him a list of more than 300 civilian and military prisoners.


“They asked me to do something to make the exchange happen,” he said.

“I immediately called the Russian ambassador to find out if something could be done, if it was possible to speed up the exchange of prisoners.”

On September 21, Russia released 215 war prisoners in exchange for Viktor Medvedchuk, a former Ukrainian member of Parliament, as well as 54 others.

On October 17, a prisoner swap included 218 people, including 108 women.

On November 3, each country released 107 captured service members.