Pope Francis tells St. Peter’s Square that Ukrainians are suffering from the “martyrdom of aggression”.
He compared Russia’s war in Ukraine to the “terrible genocide” of the 1930s, when Soviet leader Josef Stalin caused famine in the country.
Since Russia invaded its neighbor in February, Francis has talked about Ukraine at almost every public event.
Pope Francis said on Wednesday that Ukrainians are suffering from the “martyrdom of aggression” and compared Russia’s war in Ukraine to the “terrible genocide” of the 1930s when Soviet leader Josef Stalin caused famine in the country.
Francis told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square about the “Holodomor,” a time when millions of Ukrainians died from starvation, during his weekly general audience.
“This Saturday is the anniversary of the terrible Holodomor genocide, in which Stalin caused a famine that killed millions of people in 1932 and 1933,” he said.
“Let’s pray for the people who have died in this genocide, and let’s pray for the children, women, and old people in Ukraine who are being killed as a result of aggression,” he said.
First by the Russian Empire of the tsars and then by the Soviets, the Ukrainian language and any signs of Ukrainian culture or a separate identity were banned for hundreds of years.
Stalin tried to collectivize farming and get rid of Ukraine’s growing nationalist movement, which led to the Holodomor.
Since Russia invaded its neighbor in February, Francis has talked about Ukraine at almost every public event. He has also said more than once that the crisis could lead to the use of nuclear weapons, which would have uncontrollable effects on the whole world.
Last month, the pope asked Russian President Vladimir Putin directly for the first time to stop the “spiral of violence and death” in Ukraine.
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