Pope Francis said that the war in Ukraine was either “possibly in some way provoked” or “not impeded”.
He condemned “the cruelty and ferocity of Russian troops” but said that “we must not forget their real problems if they are to be solved”. This included the armaments industry as one of the factors that encourage war.
Pope Francis praised the “brave” Ukrainians who fought for survival and to defend their land. However, he said that the situation wasn’t black and white and that war was “maybe in some way provoked”.
The Pope added in the transcript of a conversation published by Civilta Cattolica by the Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica that war had also violated a country’s right to self determination.
“It’s also true that the Russians believed it would be over in one week. They were wrong. Francis stated that they encountered brave people who were struggling to survive and had a history of struggle.
“This is what drives us: to see such heroism. This is what I really want to emphasize, the heroism displayed by the Ukrainian people. He said that the situation before us is one of global war, global interests and arms sales, which is martyring a heroic people.
Separately, Francis lamented the addition of Ukraine to a list of wars in the context of the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of the Poor.
He said, “But here the situation is even worse due to the direct intervention by a’superpower” aimed at imposing their will in violation the principle of self-determination for peoples.”
Pope isn’t ‘pro-Putin
In a conversation with the Jesuit editors the pope stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin had met with an official who expressed concern about NATO’s “barking at Russia’s gates” in a manner that could lead to war.
He said, “We don’t see the whole drama behind this war. It was possibly either provoked or prevented.”
He asked himself rhetorically if that made him “pro–Putin”, and he replied: “No, it is not. It would be wrong and simplistic to say so.
Such a thing.”
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The pope also called out Russia’s use of Chechen- and Syrian mercenaries during its war in Ukraine.
Russia continues to refer to the invasion of Ukraine as a “special operation” in order to disarm and protect it against fascists.
Ukraine and other western countries assert that the fascist allegation was baseless and that it is an unprovoked act.
The west has continued to appeal to Ukraine for more weapons to defend its Donbas territory.
According to the pope, he hoped to meet Kirill, a Russian Orthodox Patriarch, at an interreligious event held in Kazakhstan in September.
They were due to meet in Jerusalem in June, but the trip was canceled due to war.
Kirill, an ally of Putin, expressed support for Russian troops in Ukraine.
Last month, Francis stated that Kirill couldn’t be “Putin’s altar boy”. This prompted a protest by the Russian Orthodox Church.