Pope Francis: Russia’s War on Ukraine ‘Repeats’ Jewish Holocaust

Pope Francis holds his weekly general audience at the Paul VI hall in the Vatican on August 25, 2021. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP) (Photo by VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images)
VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images

ROME — Pope Francis employed his strongest rhetoric to date Wednesday in condemning Russia’s war on Ukraine, tying it to the attempted extermination of the Jewish people during World War II.

In a greeting to Polish pilgrims following his weekly General Audience, the pontiff recalled that last Monday, the Center for Catholic-Jewish Relations at the Catholic University of Lublin commemorated the anniversary of Operation Reinhardt, codename for the secret Nazi plan in 1941-1943 to annihilate Polish Jews in German-occupied Poland

“During the Second World War, it caused the extermination of almost two million victims, mainly of Jewish origin,” the pope declared. “May the memory of this horrible event arouse in all of us resolutions and actions of peace.”

Francis went on to say that “history repeats itself, repeats itself. Now let’s see what is happening in Ukraine. Let us pray for peace.”

On three separate occasions, the pope has compared current Russian aggression against Ukraine to Joseph Stalin’s notorious Holodomor genocide of the early 1930s, in which millions of Ukrainians died of starvation.

Most recently, Francis said Stalin’s Holodomor genocide was a “historical antecedent” to Russia’s current war on Ukraine.

“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 the Jesuit-run America magazine. “I believe it is appropriate to mention it as a historical antecedent of the [present] conflict.”

The pope has condemned Russian aggression with ever greater clarity following complaints that he never mentioned Vladimir Putin’s name and his insistence that NATO had somehow “provoked” Russia into invading Ukraine.

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