Pope Calls Out Putin, Demands He End an 'Error and a Horror'

Francis told crowd his subject this week would not be religious
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 2, 2022 12:25 PM CDT
Pope Calls on Putin to Stop 'Spiral of Violence and Death'
Pope Francis waves Sunday during the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.   (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pope Francis on Sunday appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin for a cease-fire, imploring him to "stop this spiral of violence and death" in Ukraine and denouncing the “absurd” risk of a nuclear attack as tensions sharply escalate over the war. Francis uttered his strongest plea yet about the seven-month-old conflict, which he denounced as an "error and a horror." It was the first time in public that he cited Putin's role in the war, the AP reports. The pontiff also called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to be receptive to serious peace proposals.

Francis told the crowd in St. Peter's Square in Rome that he was abandoning his usual religious theme for his Sunday noon remarks to concentrate his reflection on Ukraine. "How the war is going in Ukraine has become so grave, devastating, and threatening that it sparks great worry," Francis said. "In fact, this terrible, inconceivable wound of humanity, instead of shrinking, continues to bleed even more, threatening to spread." In a clear reference to Putin's illegal annexation of a large swath of eastern Ukraine, the pope said: "I deplore strongly the grave situation created in the last days, with further actions contrary to the principles of international law. It, in fact, increases the risk of a nuclear escalation, to the point of fearing uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences on the world level."

It is rare for the pope to single out leaders in his frequent urgings for an end to violent conflicts. "My appeal is directed above all to the president of the Russian Federation, imploring him to stop, also for the love of his people, this spiral of violence and death," he said Sunday. Francis also called for the "recourse to all diplomatic instruments, including those so far possibly not utilized, to end this immense tragedy," without elaborating. Throughout the war, Francis has denounced the recourse to arms. But recently, he's stressed Ukraine's right to defend itself from aggression. "The war itself is an error and a horror," the pope lamented.

(Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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