20 March 2022

Pope condemns ‘senseless massacre’ in Ukraine

20 March 2022

Pope Francis has denounced Russia’s “repugnant war” against Ukraine as “cruel and sacrilegious inhumanity”.

In some of his strongest words yet since Russia’s invasion began on February 24, Francis told thousands of people in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican on Sunday that every day brings more atrocities in what is a “senseless massacre”.

“There is no justification for this,” Francis said, in an apparent reference to Russia, which sought to justify its invasion as vital for its own defence.

But Francis again stopped short of naming Russia as the aggressor. Pontiffs typically have decried wars and their devastating toll on civilians without citing warmongers by name.

Pope Francis said there has been ‘senseless massacre’ in Ukraine (Andrew Medichini/AP) (AP)

Francis also called on “all actors in the international community” to work towards ending the war.

“Again this week, missiles, bombs, rained down on the elderly, children and pregnant mothers,” the Pope said.

His thoughts, he said, are also with the millions who flee. “And I feel great pain for those who don’t even have the chance to escape,” Francis added.

The Pope said that “above all, defenceless life should get respected and protected, not eliminated”.

That priority “comes before any strategy”, Francis said, before leading those in the square in a moment of silent prayer.

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