‘Even out of love for his own people…’: Pope Francis begs Putin to end Ukraine war

Updated on Oct 02, 2022 07:39 PM IST

In an address for thousands of people in St. Peter's Square, Francis condemned Putin's latest annexation of parts of Ukraine as being against international law.

Pope Francis appeals to end Russia-Ukraine war(Reuters)
Pope Francis appeals to end Russia-Ukraine war(Reuters)
By | Edited by Sohini Goswami

For the first time since the beginning of war, Pope Francis on Sunday appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to put an end to the “spiral of violence and death” in Ukraine, saying that the never-ending crisis was risking a nuclear escalation with uncontrollable global consequences.

In an address for thousands of people in St. Peter's Square, Francis condemned Putin's latest annexation of parts of Ukraine as being against international law. He urged Putin to think of his own people in the event of an escalation.

“My appeal goes above all to the president of the Russian Federation, begging him to stop this spiral of violence and death, even out of love for his own people,” Francis said in the address.

Francis said he was haunted by the “rivers of blood and tears that have been spilled in these months” of war between the two nations. He called on Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a “hopeful” appeal, to be open to any “serious peace proposal” by Moscow. He said it was "absurd" that the world was risking a nuclear conflict.

The Pope reiterated the appeals once again in a series of tweets.

“The war in Ukraine has become so serious, devastating and threatening as to cause great concern. In the name of God and of the sense of humanity that dwells in every heart, I renew my call for an immediate ceasefire,” Francis said.

“I deeply deplore the grave situation that has arisen in recent days, with further actions contrary to the principles of international law. The risk of nuclear escalation thus increases giving rise to fears of uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences worldwide,” he added.

A Vatican official noted that the address was so sombre that it reminded of a radio peace appeal by Pope John XXIII in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In a reference to ethnic Russians living in Ukraine, Francis said it was also necessary to respect “the rights of minorities and (their) legitimate worries”. He called it “anguishing” that people were learning about Ukraine's geography through names of places – such as Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, Izium, Zaporizhzhia and other places – where people had suffered "indescribable suffering and fear".

“Let negotiations begin that will lead to solutions that are not imposed by force, but consensual, just and stable, based on respect for human life, as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country, and the rights of minorities,” he said.

“After seven months of hostilities in Ukraine, let us use all diplomatic means, even those that have not been used so far, to bring an end to this terrible tragedy. War is an error and a horror!” Francis tweeted.

On Friday, Putin proclaimed the annexation of four regions of Ukraine, occupying nearly a fifth of the country by placing them under Russia's nuclear umbrella.

Kyiv and its Western allies have condemned Putin's annexations as illegal, and Zelensky has said his forces will continue their fight to recapture all Ukrainian territory occupied by Russian forces.

Meanwhile, Ukraine on Sunday claimed full control over the eastern logistics hub of Lyman, Kyiv's most significant battlefield gain in weeks.

(With agency inputs)

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