By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
VATICAN CITY/KYIV (Worthy News) – Pope Francis has warned rust the war in Ukraine could escalate into a nuclear confrontation and, for the first time, begged Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly to stop the “spiral of violence and death.
In an address dedicated to Ukraine and made to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square, Francis also condemned Putin’s latest annexation of parts of Ukraine as being against international law.
He urged Putin to think of his own people in the event of an escalation. One Vatican official reportedly said Sunday’s emotional address was reminiscent of a radio peace appeal by Pope John XXIII in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Saying he was haunted by “rivers of blood and tears that have been spilled in these months,” Francis also urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to be open to any “serious peace proposal.”
“I deeply deplore the grave situation that has arisen in recent days, with further actions contrary to the principles of international law. It increases the risk of nuclear escalation, giving rise to fears of uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences worldwide,” the pope said.
He stressed that after “seven months of hostilities, let us use all diplomatic means, even those that may not have been used so far, to bring an end to this terrible tragedy.”
Francis explained that he was “saddened by the thousands of victims, especially children, and the destruction which has left many people and families homeless and threatened vast territories with cold and hunger.”
The pope, who once decided to visit the Russian embassy in Rome to appeal for peace, said that “Certain actions can never be justified, never!”
He added that it “is disturbing that the world is learning the geography of Ukraine through areas “which have become places of indescribable suffering and fear.” And “what about the fact that humanity is once again faced with the atomic threat? It is absurd,” he noted, referring to Moscow’s veiled threat to use nuclear weapons to defend occupied territories.