Ukraine PM to meet Pope Francis amid crisis
VATICAN CITY - Agence France-Presse
Pope Francis speaks the crowd from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St.Peter's square during the Angelus prayer at the Vatican. AFP PhotoUkrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is to meet Pope Francis on Saturday amid tensions with pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine, the Vatican said.
Yatsenyuk will be one of dozens of world leaders attending a ceremony on Sunday that will confer sainthood on popes John Paul II and John XXIII.
Ukraine's Christian believers are divided between Orthodox followers of the Kiev and Moscow patriarchates and a minority, mainly in western Ukraine, of Greek Catholics who recognise the authority of the Vatican.
Vatican has faced some criticism over its low-key reaction to the spiralling crisis in Ukraine.
Francis on Easter Sunday urged the international community to "prevent violence" in Ukraine after a gunfight threatened to unravel an accord struck in Geneva last week aimed at reducing tensions.
"We ask you to enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine," Francis said.
The pope asked that "all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence and in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country's future".
Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula last month after sending in troops and has massed a military force estimated at 40,000 soldiers on Ukraine's eastern border.