Pope kisses Ukrainian flag sent from Bucha, condemns ‘massacre’

Pope Francis on Wednesday, while speaking to a general audience, kissed a Ukrainian flag sent from Bucha and condemned “the massacre” that had left hundreds of bodies in city streets and in mass graves.

While the pontiff was speaking to his weekly audience, he unfolded a Ukrainian flag that he said was sent from the “martyred city” Bucha, according to a Vatican news release.

“Recent news from the war in Ukraine, instead of bringing relief and hope, brought new atrocities, such as the massacre of Bucha,” Francis said, according to Reuters.

Last week, images emerged of Ukrainian civilians who were executed and left lying in the streets of Bucha, just outside of Kyiv, and reports came of hundreds of people buried in mass graves in the city.

“Ever more horrendous cruelties [are occurring], even against civilians, women, and helpless children,” he said. “They are victims whose innocent blood cries out to heaven and implores.”

He also asked a group of child refugees, who arrived on Tuesday from Ukraine, to join him on stage.

“These children had to flee, and have come to a strange land,” Francis said before giving each child a chocolate Easter egg. “This is one of the fruits of war. Let us not forget them, and let us not forget the Ukrainian people.”

Francis called for an end to the war and urged all parties to negotiate seriously for peace.

“May this war cease! May weapons fall silent. Stop sowing death and destruction,” he cried out.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky invited the pope to Kyiv by telephone twice, according to the Vatican. He was also invited by Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko. During his trip to Malta, Francis said he was considering the invitations, but offered no more details.

Tags Pope Francis Pope Francis russia russian invasion of ukraine ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky

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