Pope, citing civilian massacres, condemns ‘abominable actions’ in Ukraine
Pope Francis stated Tuesday that the war in Ukraine was characterized by “the forces evil” as it left behind abominations like the killing of civilians.
Francis spoke to participants of an interreligious pilgrimage in solidarity with the Ukrainian people at Chernivtsi, Western Ukraine organized by the Elijah Interfaith Institute.
He said, “The present moment leaves you deeply troubled because it is marked with the forces of evil.”
He said, “The suffering inflicted upon so many frail-and defenceless persons; many civilians massacred; innocent victims amongst the young; and the desperate plight for women and children… All this troubles my conscience.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is a member the Russian Orthodox Church, described Moscow’s actions in Ukraine as a “special army operation” that was not intended to occupy territory, but to demilitarise the country and “denazify”.
Francis rejected this terminology and called it a war.
According to the Kremlin, allegations that Russian forces executed civilians in Ukraine are a “monstrous fabrication” meant to denigrate the Russian army.
Francis has made many appeals to end the conflict and said that it was impossible for anyone to remain silent. He also stated that it was essential to “demand, in the name God, the cessation of these abominable acts”.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams spoke at a meeting of pilgrimage, where key members spoke. He echoed the pope’s recent call for an Easter truce.
It was attended also by Jews, Hindus and Muslims, Buddhists, and other members of religious faiths.
Francis appealed to “government leaders, particularly those who appeal to sacred principles of religion,” in his message to encourage peace and avoid evil.
Since the start of the war, Francis has not mentioned Russia in his prayers except during special global events for peace, which took place on March 25, 1995. He has expressed his opposition to Russia’s actions by using the words aggression, invasion and atrocities.
Francis impliedly condemned Putin’s invasion of Ukraine during a visit to Malta earlier in the month. He said that “potentate” was fomenting nationalist conflict.