Pope kisses Ukrainian flag and condemns Bucha massacres

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Pope Francis holds the Ukrainian flag sent to him from the town of Bucha during the weekly general audience at the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall on April 6. (Remo Casilli/Reuters)

Pope Francis condemned the murder of civilians in the kyiv suburb of Bucha by the Russian army and renewed its call for an end to the war in Ukraine.

Speaking at his general audience on Wednesday at the Vatican, the pope called for an end to the “atrocities” seen in Buchawhere the bodies of civilians were found strewn in the streets.

“Even more horrific cruelties are happening, even against civilians, women and children. These are victims whose innocent blood cries to the sky and begs,” he said.

Russia has repeatedly denied the alleged atrocities, despite growing evidence to suggest otherwise. Response to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accusations at the United Nations Security Council On Tuesday, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia called the accusations against the Russian military “unfounded.”

The Pontiff joined by a group of Ukrainian refugee children: The pope then unfurled a Ukrainian flag, which he said “came from the martyr city of Bucha,” and kissed it. The decision was met with loud applause from the audience.

François then invited a group of ten Ukrainian children, now refugees in Italy, to go on stage with him.

“These children had to flee and came to a foreign country. It is one of the fruits of war. Let’s not forget them, and let’s not forget the Ukrainian people,” he said.

Francis also strongly criticized the failures of international organizations to end the war in Ukraine.

“After the Second World War, attempts were made to lay the foundations for a new era of peace. But, unfortunately, the old story of great power competition continued. And, in the current war in Ukraine, we are witnessing the impotence of International Organizations.”

A bit of context: Although the pope has yet to visit Ukraine amid the Russian invasion, he told reporters on April 2 that a trip “is on the table.”

Francis’ comments during his general audience on Wednesday echoed his previous shows of support for Ukrainian refugees and calls for an end to the war.

On March 19, Francis visited 19 Ukrainian refugee children at the Bambino Gesù children’s hospital in Rome, Italy. They were receiving treatment for oncological and neurological diseases, among others, as well as serious injuries from explosions, Vatican press director Matteo Bruni said at the time.

“Enough. Stop. Let the guns be silent. Negotiate earnestly for peace.” Francois said at the end of March, during his weekly address at the Angelus.

“War cannot be inevitable. We cannot get used to war,” he added.

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