The role of the Church in a world shaken by war and other global issues was the subject Pope Francis raised with his diplomatic representatives around the globe on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, Europe and the entire world are shaken by a particularly serious war, due to the violation of international law, the risks of nuclear escalation, and the grave economic and social consequences,” the pope told almost 100 apostolic nuncios and permanent observers of the Holy See.

The diplomats are gathered in Rome for their triennial meeting from Sept. 7–10.

In his official address, Francis thanked the diplomats for bringing the pope’s closeness “to peoples and Churches,” saying his representatives had been “points of reference in moments of greatest disorientation and turbulence.”

The pope recalled that “the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic” had forced everyone “to make various restrictions in our daily lives and in our pastoral activity.”

“Now the worst seems to be over, and thank God we can meet again,” Francis added.

The pope said that the nuncios had also participated actively in the consultation stages of the Synod on Synodality.

But, unfortunately, he said, not only Europe but also the entire world is shaken by a “war of particular gravity.”

“It is a ‘piecemeal’ third world war, to which you bear witness in the places where you carry out your mission,” the pope told his representatives.

Pope Francis has repeatedly spoken of World War III during his pontificate.

In April, he wrote in an introduction to an Italian book that the world was moving toward World War III as if it were unavoidable, but that the war was not inevitable.

“When we allow ourselves to be devoured by this monster represented by war, when we allow this monster to raise its head and guide our actions, everyone loses, we destroy God’s creatures, we commit sacrilege and prepare a future of death for our children and grandchildren,” he wrote.