Pope Francis Decries ‘Monstrosities’ Inflicted on Ukrainian People

Pope Francis ponders during the inauguration of a UNESCO chair at the Pontifical Lateran University on October 7, 2021 in Rome. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP) (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images

ROME — Pope Francis again voiced his distress Wednesday over the situation in “tormented” Ukraine, just as Russian President Vladimir Putin has raised the specter of nuclear war.

“I would like to mention the terrible situation in tormented Ukraine,” the pontiff told crowds gathered in the Vatican for his weekly general audience.

The pope noted that Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, is currently in Odesa as Francis’ envoy to the country, the cardinal’s fourth such visit since the Russian invasion. This week it was reported that Krajewski came under gunfire as he brought food and other humanitarian aid to Ukrainians at the front line.

“Yesterday he telephoned me,” Francis recounted. “He told me about the pain of this people, the savagery, the monstrosities, the tortured corpses they find.”

“Let us unite ourselves to this people who are so noble and martyred,” he concluded.

On Tuesday night, President Putin warned in a national address that “Russia will use all the instruments at its disposal to counter a threat against its territorial integrity — this is not a bluff.”

Russia “has many types of weapons of destruction, the components of which in some cases are more modern than those of the countries of NATO,” Putin declared.

Putin’s thinly veiled threat of a nuclear response in Ukraine as well as calling up reservists follows a series of humiliating military losses in which Ukraine has regained large areas of previously occupied territory.

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