Pope Francis says pray for those fleeing Ukraine, but avoided mentioning Putin’s invasion

Pope Francis at press conference on his return from Malta (Reuters)
Pope Francis at press conference on his return from Malta (Reuters)

“Thousands of people have been forced to flee Ukraine due to the war. But many have also been forced to leave their homelands in Asia, Africa and the Americas. My thoughts and prayers are with them all. “Pope Francis wrote on his official Twitter account.

His words were part of the press conference he held on the return flight from his two-day visit to Malta and in which one of the main themes was the migratory flows towards the southern European countries.

However, the Pontiff did not provide the correct data: because there are not thousands of Ukrainian refugees, there are more than 4 million who without water, food, fuel or medicine, and above all women and children, are fleeing the barbarity of the Russian troops.

And the number is increasing, as they continue to flee their homes, their overrun cities, creating the largest avalanche of European refugees since World War II. And according to United Nations estimates, there are nearly 6.5 million internally displaced people in the country.

Furthermore, the contradictory conjunction “but” that the Pope has chosen for his message can hurt even more those who have lost everything and left part of their family due to the offensive unleashed on February 24 by Vladimir Putin.

The uncomfortable situation in which Francis found himself today is not an isolated episode in this month of conflict. During all these days of violence – branded as war crimes by Western powers – Francis has carefully avoided appointing Russian President Vladimir Putin, or even Russia itself, as an aggressor.

Nearly 4.2 million Ukrainian refugees have already fled their country
Nearly 4.2 million Ukrainian refugees have already fled their country

Days ago, The New York Times revealed that some of his own bishops and other supporters within the Roman Catholic Church want him to name and even warns that historians say The pontiff risks slipping off his moral heights and into a dark space prominently occupied by Pope Pius XII, the wartime pope who avoided speaking critically about Hitler. and the Axis powers when Germany invaded Poland and eventually perpetrated the Holocaust.

“In many ways, the current situation of the Pope is reminiscent of the situation that Pius XII had to face,” commented David I. Kertzer, a Vatican and Italian historian whose new book, “The Pope in War”, on Pius XII, Mussolini and Hitler, will be released in June. Kertzer explained that Pius XII also sought a balance between internal interests and the public demand to speak out, as he resisted great pressure to denounce Hitler. Instead, he used generic language about the horrors of war, which Kertzer said Francis was now echoing. “The position he is taking, or not taking, is not without risk,” he said.

Ukrainian forces recaptured the city of Bucha and discovered hundreds of massacred civilians (REUTERS / Zohra Bensemra)
Ukrainian forces recaptured the city of Bucha and discovered hundreds of massacred civilians (REUTERS / Zohra Bensemra)

A recent editorial by National Catholic reporter, who often stands in solidarity with Francis, urged the pope to attract Putin’s attention. “Whatever is happening behind the scenes, it is time for Francis to tell the truth about the murderous assault on Ukraine. “he said, and added: “It’s time to say it as it is. This is Putin’s war and it is evil.”

This weekend, after more than a month of offensive, Ukrainian forces managed to regain control of over 30 occupied cities and discovered a chilling scenario: hundreds of civilians massacred by Putin’s troops. The situation is so serious that the Western powers have asked that the Russian president be tried by the International Criminal Court – the one that the Pope does not appoint – for war crimes.

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