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 on Feb. 24, Francis on Sunday told thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square 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 defense. 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.
Francis also called on “all actors in the international community” to work toward ending the war.
“Again this week, missiles, bombs, rained down on the elderly, children and pregnant mothers,” the pope said. His thoughts, he said, went to 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, defenseless 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.