Pope Francis, continuing his implicit criticism of Russia, called the Ukrainian conflict a “senseless massacre” and urged leaders to put an end to “this repugnant war” on Sunday.
“Unfortunately, the violent aggression against Ukraine is not slowing down,” he told about 30,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly Sunday address and blessing.
“It is a senseless massacre in which slaughters and atrocities are repeated on a daily basis,” Francis said in his latest strong condemnation of the war, which has so far avoided naming Russia.
“There is no justification for this,” he said.
Moscow says the action it launched on Feb. 24 is a “special military operation” designed not to occupy territory but to demilitarize its neighbor and purge it what it sees as dangerous nationalists. Francis has already rejected that terminology.
“I beg all the players in the international community to truly commit themselves to stopping this repugnant war,” the pope said, drawing loud cheers and applause from the crowd.
“Even this week missiles and bombs hit civilians, the elderly, children and pregnant mothers,” he said.
Russia denies targeting civilians.
Francis spoke about his visit on Saturday to a Rome hospital that is treating children wounded in Ukraine.
“One was missing an arm and another had a head wound,” he said.