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Pope Francis warns of risk of nuclear war and appeals to Putin over Ukraine


Pope Francis called on Russian President Vladimir Putin for a ceasefire on Sunday, imploring him to “stop this spiral of violence and death” in Ukraine and denouncing the “absurd” risk of “uncontrollable” consequences of a nuclear attack as that the tensions increase considerably. About the war

Francis delivered his strongest statement yet on the seven-month conflict, which he denounced as a “mistake and a horror”.

It was the first time in public that he cited Putin’s role in the war. The pontiff also called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to “be open” to serious peace proposals.

Francis told the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square that he was ditching his usual religious theme for his Sunday lunchtime remarks to focus his reflection on Ukraine.

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Pope Francis leaves after the Angelus prayer from his study window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.
(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

“The war in Ukraine has become so serious, devastating and threatening that it is of great concern,” Francis said.

“In fact, this terrible and inconceivable wound of humanity, instead of shrinking, continues to bleed even more, threatening to spread,” the pope said.

“I strongly regret the serious situation created in recent days, with new actions contrary to the principles of international law,” Francis said, in a clear reference to Putin’s illegal annexation of a large part of eastern Ukraine. “In fact, it increases the risk of a nuclear escalation, to the point of fearing uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences globally.”

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Pope Francis waves during the noon Angelus prayer from his study window overlooking St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.

Pope Francis waves during the noon Angelus prayer from his study window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.
(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

“Rivers of blood and tears shed these months torment me,” the pope said. “I am hurt by the thousands of victims, particularly among children, and so much destruction, which leaves many people and families homeless and threatens territories with cold and hunger,” he said.

“Certain actions can never be justified, never,” the pope said. He did not elaborate. But Putin tried to justify launching the invasion by saying he needed to protect his country from what he called “Nazi” elements in Ukraine.

“It is distressing that the world is learning the geography of Ukraine through names like Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, Izium, Zaporizhizhia and other places, which have become places of indescribable suffering and fear,” Francis said.

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Pope Francis, second window from the right, reads a message during the Angelus noon prayer from his study window overlooking St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.

Pope Francis, second window from the right, reads a message during the Angelus noon prayer from his study window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.
(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

“And what about the fact that humanity is once again facing an atomic threat? It’s absurd,” said Francis, who later called for an immediate ceasefire.

“My appeal is addressed above all to the President of the Russian Federation, imploring him to stop, also out of love for his people, this spiral of violence and death,” Francis said. “On the other hand, distressed by the immense suffering of the Ukrainian people after the aggression suffered, I address an equally confident appeal to the President of Ukraine to be open to serious proposals for peace,” Francis said.

It is rare for the Pope to single out leaders in his frequent calls to end violent conflict. In doing so, Francis signaled his extreme concern over the deteriorating situation.

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A damaged building is seen, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 14, 2022.

A damaged building is seen, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 14, 2022.
(REUTERS/Oleksandr Lapshyn)

“Let the weapons cease and seek conditions to start negotiations capable of leading to solutions not imposed by force but consensual, fair and stable,” said Francisco. “And they will be so if they are based on respect for the sacrosanct value of human life, as well as on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country, as well as the rights of minorities and legitimate concerns.”

Invoking the name of God and the “sense of humanity that is lodged in every heart,” he renewed his many pleas for an immediate ceasefire.

Without giving further details, Francis also called for “recourse to all diplomatic instruments, including those that may not have been used until now, to put an end to this immense tragedy.”

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“The war itself is a mistake and a horror,” the pontiff lamented.

Throughout the war, Francis has denounced the resort to arms. But recently, he emphasized Ukraine’s right to defend itself from aggression. Logistical complications have dashed his oft-stated hope of making a pilgrimage to Ukraine to encourage peace efforts.



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