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Pope denounces Russian “cruelty” and praises Ukrainian “heroism”

ROME — Pope Francis blasted the “ferocity and cruelty” of Russian troops in Ukraine while praising the “heroism” and “courage” of Ukrainians in defending their land.

Francis made some of his sharpest comments on the war during a meeting with European editors of Jesuit journals last month, excerpts of which appeared Tuesday in Italian daily newspapers La Stampa and Avvenire.

While strongly criticizing the invasion of Russia, Francis also insisted that there were “no good guys and bad guys” and that Russia was somehow provoked by the expansion of the world. NATO to the East.

“Someone might say at that moment: ‘But you are in favor of Putin!’ No, I’m not,” Francis said. “It would be simplistic and wrong to say such a thing. I am simply against reducing complexity to the distinction between good and evil, without thinking about roots and interests, which are very complex. As we see the ferocity, the cruelty of the Russian troops, we must not forget the problems to try to solve them.

In the interview, Francis confirmed that he hopes to meet Russian Patriarch Kirill, who justified the war, when the two are due to attend an interfaith meeting in Kazakhstan in mid-September.

A meeting scheduled for June was canceled by both sides, Francis said, “so that our dialogue is not misunderstood.”

In Kazakhstan, he said, “I hope I can greet him and talk to him a bit as a pastor.”

At the same time, Francis spoke at length about praising the courage of Ukrainians and reaffirming their right to self-defense while castigating what he said were financial interests in the arms makers’ war to “test and sell weapons”.

“It’s true that the Russians thought it would be over in a week. But they miscalculated,” Francis said. “They found a brave people, a people who are fighting to survive and who have a history of fighting.”


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