Pope Francis: Stalin’s Holodomor Genocide Was ‘Antecedent’ to Present Ukraine Conflict


ROME — Stalin’s Holodomor genocide of millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s was a “historical antecedent” to Russia’s current armed aggression, Pope Francis said in an interview published Monday.

“I should like to mention that there is in these days the anniversary of the Holodomor, the genocide that Stalin committed against the Ukrainians (in 1932-33),” the pontiff told a team representing the Jesuit-run America magazine. “I believe it is appropriate to mention it as a historical antecedent of the [present] conflict.”

Asked why he never mentions Russian president Vladimir Putin by name in his criticisms of the war, the pope replied that it isn’t necessary because everyone knows who he is talking about.

Last May, for instance, the Washington Post ran an article noting that “the pope’s messaging about the war, even to some supporters, has also been head-scratching,” both because of his failure to mention Putin by name and because he has suggested that the West was at least partially to blame for “provoking” Russia.

The body of a young woman near Poltava during the man-made Holodomor famine in the Ukraine, former Soviet Union, Spring 1934. (Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“Certainly, the one who invades is the Russian state. This is very clear,” Francis told America. “Sometimes I try not to specify so as not to offend and rather condemn in general, although it is well known whom I am condemning. It is not necessary that I put a name and surname.”

“Why do I not name Putin? Because it is not necessary; it is already known,” he said. “However, sometimes people latch onto a detail. Everyone knows my stance, with Putin or without Putin, without naming him.”

Dead and dying horses near a Belgorod collective farm during the man-made Holodomor famine in the Ukraine, former Soviet Union, 1934. (Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“When I speak about Ukraine, I speak of a people who are martyred. If you have a martyred people, you have someone who martyrs them,” he said. “When I speak about Ukraine, I speak about the cruelty because I have much information about the cruelty of the troops that come in.”

“The position of the Holy See is to seek peace and to seek an understanding. The diplomacy of the Holy See is moving in this direction and, of course, is always willing to mediate,” he said.


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