September 24, 2022

Pope Francis said Ukrainians were subjected to savagery, monstrosities and torture, calling them a “noble” people who are suffering.

He also claimed that any consideration of using nuclear weapons was “madness”.

The pope’s comments came just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin called for Russians to mobilize for the war in Ukraine and issued veiled nuclear threats to the West.

He was speaking at the end of his general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday.

Francis, who did not name Russia, told the audience of a conversation he had with Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the head of his charity that delivers aid in Ukraine.

Vatican media said Krajewski, who is Polish, had to flee and take cover after coming under light fire last week while delivering aid with a Catholic bishop, a Protestant bishop and a Ukrainian soldier. He is also said to have visited mass graves outside of Izjum, in northeastern Ukraine.

“He (Krajewski) told me about the pain of these people, the barbaric actions, the monstrosity, the tortured bodies they find. Let us unite with these people, so noble and martyred,” he said.

Ukrainian officials said they found hundreds of bodies, some with their hands tied behind their backs, buried in territory retaken from Russian forces in what President Volodymyr Zelensky called evidence of war crimes.

Russia has consistently denied that its troops committed war crimes since its troops invaded Ukraine in February. On Monday, the Kremlin dismissed allegations of such abuses in the Kharkiv region, where Izium is located, as “lies.”

Of the 111 civilian bodies exhumed by Wednesday, four showed signs of torture, said Serhiy Bolvinov, head of investigative police in the Kharkiv region. Reuters in the cemetery.

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