Pope Francis on Sunday appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the “spiral of violence and death” in the war in Ukraine, warning of the risk of a nuclear “escalation” with global consequences.
“My appeal is addressed, first of all, to the President of the Russian Federation [Vladimir Putin]asking him to stop, also out of love for his people, this spiral of violence and death”, asked the Pontiff, during the Angelus prayer from the window of the pontifical apartment.
Before thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the leader of the Catholic Church made an unprecedented statement, dedicating his message directly to Kiev and Moscow. Usually he reflects the war in the liturgy.
“The course of the war in Ukraine has become so serious, devastating and threatening that it raises great concerns,” he said.
For Francis, it is “absurd” that humanity is once again confronted with the “atomic threat”. “What else needs to happen, how much blood has to flow, yet, for us to realize that war is never a solution, but only destruction?”, he asked.
“In the name of God, in the name of the sense of humanity that dwells in every heart, I renew my appeal for an immediate ceasefire to be reached, for weapons to be silenced and conditions for negotiation, capable of leading to solutions, not imposed by force, but agreed upon, just, stable,” he added.
According to the Argentine, measures are needed that respect the “value of life, as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country, as well as the rights of minorities and legitimate concerns.”
Francis also urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “be open” to serious peace proposals.
“On the other hand, saddened by the enormous suffering of the Ukrainian population after the aggression suffered, I address an equally hopeful appeal to the President of Ukraine to be open to serious peace proposals,” he added.
Jorge Bergoglio addressed international community officials and political leaders, inviting them to resort to “all diplomatic instruments”, even those that have not yet been used, to end this “enormous tragedy”.
“Do everything within your power to put an end to the ongoing war, without getting involved in dangerous escalations, promoting and supporting dialogue initiatives”, he declared.
“Please let the new generations breathe the holy air of peace, not the polluted air of war, which is madness,” he said, calling the war “a mistake and a horror.”
Finally, the Holy Father “deeply regretted the serious situation that has arisen in recent days, with new actions contrary to the principles of international law.” “In fact, it increases the risk of a nuclear escalation, to the point of causing fear of uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences at the world level”, he concluded, in an indirect reference to the recent referendums in Ukrainian regions annexed by Russia.