Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, pleaded with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time, to halt the “spiral of violence and death” in Ukraine, warning that the situation could spiral out of control and have serious consequences for the rest of the world.
In an address to tens of thousands of people on Sunday, October 2, in St. Peter’s Square, Francis criticized Putin’s most recent acquisition of territory in Ukraine and encouraged Putin to consider his own people in the event of an escalation.
Pope John XXIII’s 1962 radio peace appeal during the Cuban Missile Crisis served as a model for Francis’ speech.
It was the first time Francis has addressed Putin in such a direct, personal manner.
He said, “I’m haunted by rivers of blood and tears that have been spilt in these months.
“In the name of God end the conflict it is absurd that the world was risking a nuclear conflict.
“My appeal goes above all to the president of the Russian Federation, begging him to stop this spiral of violence and death, even out of love for his own people.
“On the other side, pained by the enormous suffering of the Ukrainian population following the aggression it suffered, I address an equally hopeful appeal to the president of Ukraine to be open to a serious peace proposal.”
Pope Francis also emphasized the right of all nations to “sovereign and territorial integrity” in his remarks, which came two days after Putin announced the annexation of nearly a fifth of Ukraine and placed the territories under Russia’s nuclear umbrella.
He said, “I strongly deplore the grave situation that has been created in the last few days, with more actions that are contrary to the principles of international law.
“This, in fact, increases the risk of an nuclear escalation to the point of fearing uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences on a global level.”