Rome — A somber Pope Francis denounced the “massacre in Bucha” and kissed a battered Ukrainian flag from the decimated town near Ukraine‘s capital on Wednesday during his weekly general audience at the Vatican.
“Recent news from the war in Ukraine, instead of bringing relief and hope, brought new atrocities, such as the massacre of Bucha,” he said toward the end of the audience.
“Cruelty that is increasingly horrendous, also against civilians, defenseless women and children. They are victims whose innocent blood cries out up to heaven and implores: ‘Stop this war! Let the weapons fall silent! Stop sowing death and destruction’,” said Francis.
The pope then held up the stained Ukrainian flag and invited a group of Ukrainian refugee children accompanied by two women to join him at the podium. He folded the flag and kissed it.
“These children had to flee and come to a strange land. This is one of the fruits of war,” he said. “Let’s not forget them, and let’s not forget the Ukrainian people.”
It is estimated that about 90% of the more than 4.2 million Ukrainian refugees who have fled their country since Russia invaded on February 24 are women and children.
A day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused the United Nations of failing to stop Russia’s brutal assault on his country, Pope Francis echoed the sentiment.
After World War II, countries tried to lay the foundations for a “new era of peace,” the pontiff said on Wednesday, “but unfortunately the old story of competition between the greater powers went on, and in the current war in Ukraine, we are witnessing the impotence of international organizations.”
Francis has pleaded incessantly for the cessation of hostilities since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The pope has confirmed that he’s considering a trip to Kyiv, and that Vatican diplomats are working behind the scenes in a bid to stop the war.
War in Ukraine
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