Pope addresses Putin and Zelenskyy, calls for peace talks
The Pope addressed Putin and Zelensky (Photo:Vatican Media / Handout via REUTERS)
Pope Francis in his Sunday sermon called on Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to "stop the spiral of violence and death" in Ukraine, and asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to be open to "serious proposals for peace", Vatican News reported on Oct. 2.
“My appeal is first and foremost to the President of the Russian Federation, begging him to stop, at least out of love for his people, this spiral of violence and death,” the Pope said.
“On the other hand, grieved by the enormous suffering of the Ukrainian population due to the aggression, I send the same confidence-filled appeal to the president of Ukraine to be open to serious peace proposals.”
He stated that negotiations should not be imposed by force, and the decisions taken should be fair and stable and consistent with the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity of both countries.
“How much more blood must be shed for us to understand that war is never a solution, but only annihilation?” Francis said.
“I repeat the call to immediately achieve a ceasefire. Let the weapons fall silent and look for conditions that will help start negotiations that can lead to solutions that aren’t imposed by force, but agreed, just and stable. They will be so if they are based on respect for the sacred value of human life, as well as for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country.”
Russian dictator Vladimir Putin also called for a cease-fire on Sept. 30, the day he claimed Russia had annexed four more regions of Ukraine. Political commentators have said the Kremlin is looking for ways to freeze the current conflict so Russia can consolidate its territorial gains. Meanwhile, Ukraine continues to liberated land previously occupied by Russian forces.
The Pope also appealed to all active figures in international life and political leaders of countries with a request to do everything in their power to end the war.
“After seven months of hostilities, let all diplomatic means, even those that may not have been used so far, be put into action to put an end to this huge tragedy,” he said. “War itself is a mistake and a horror.”
In addition, Pope Francis expressed concern about the aggravation of the war in Ukraine. He condemned Russia's annexation of Ukrainian territories and nuclear escalation.
“I strongly condemn the serious situation that has been created in recent days due to repeated actions that are contrary to the principles of international law,” the Pope said. “It really increases the threat of nuclear escalation, up to the fear of uncontrolled and catastrophic consequences at the global level.”
He also expressed his condolences on the many victims of Russia's war against Ukraine, including many children.
“I am deeply tormented by the rivers of blood and tears shed during these months,” said the Pope. “I am saddened by the thousands of victims, especially among children, and the great destruction that has left many people and families homeless, threatening cold and hunger in large areas. Certain actions can never be justified.”
“It is terrible that the world is studying the geography of Ukraine through such names as Bucha, Irpen, Mariupol, Izyum, Zaporizhzhya and other places that have become places of untold suffering and fear. What can we say about the fact that the world is once again facing a nuclear threat? This is absurd.”
During Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Pope has been criticized several times for his comments about the war. First, Francis said that refugees from Ukraine are better received in the world than those from other countries.
Before Catholic Easter, the Vatican decided to organize a symbolic reconciliation of Ukrainians and Russians: during the Way of The Cross in the Colosseum, a Ukrainian and a Russian woman carried the cross. The idea met with violent indignation in society among believers, as well as Ukrainian diplomats, for equating victim and perpetrator.
On Aug. 24, Pope Francis announced that the daughter of the Kremlin ideologist Alexander Dugin, a follower of the Russian Nazi ideology Daria, who was blown up in the Moscow region under unknown circumstances, was "an innocent victim of the war." This also provoked a diplomatic row between the Vatican and Kyiv.
On Aug. 30, the Vatican reacted to criticism of Pope Francis regarding his comments about the murder of Daria Dugina, saying that the Pope's words should be interpreted as the voice of values, and not a political position.
In addition, the Pope has long avoided directly blaming Russia for the war in Ukraine. It was only in its clarifying statement about the Pope’s comments on Dugina that the Vatican publicly stated the fact that it was Russia that started the war in Ukraine.
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