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Pope Francis Denounces Russia’s ‘Sacrilegious War’ on Ukraine

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ROME — Pope Francis again asked for prayers for the people of Ukraine Sunday, who continue to suffer the outrages of this “sacrilegious war.”

“Let us now pray for peace, thinking of the humanitarian tragedy of the tortured Ukraine, still under the bombardments of this sacrilegious war,” the pope said following his Mass on the island nation of Malta. “Let us not tire of praying and helping those who suffer. Peace be with you!”

On Saturday, the pope called Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine “infantile and destructive aggression,” without mentioning the Russian president by name.

Francis instead spoke of “some potentate, sadly caught up in anachronistic claims of nationalist interests” who is “provoking and fomenting conflicts,” an evident reference to Mr. Putin.

In his address to Malta’s civil authorities, Francis declared that “from the east of Europe, from the land of sunrise, the dark shadows of war have now spread.”

“We had thought that invasions of other countries, savage street fighting and atomic threats were grim memories of a distant past,” he said. “However, the icy winds of war, which bring only death, destruction and hatred in their wake, have swept down powerfully upon the lives of many people and affected us all.”

“Now in the night of the war that is fallen upon humanity, please, let us not allow the dream of peace to fade!” he exhorted.

“We need compassion and care, not ideological and populist visions fueled by words of hatred and unconcerned for the concrete life of the people, ordinary people,” he said.

The pope cited the Italian Catholic politician Georgio La Pira, who over sixty years ago denounced a “clash of interests and ideologies that shake a humanity in prey to incredible childishness.”

“Those were timely words; we can repeat them because they have a great relevance,” Francis said, once more decrying “the infantile and destructive aggression that threatens us, before the risk of an ‘enlarged Cold War’ that can stifle the life of entire peoples and generations.”

“That ‘childishness,’ sadly, has not disappeared. It has re-emerged powerfully in the seductions of autocracy, new forms of imperialism, widespread aggressiveness, and the inability to build bridges and start from the poorest in our midst,” he stated. “Today, it is difficult to think with the logic of peace. We have gotten used to thinking with the logic of war.”


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