Pope condemns Russian 'cruelty' but praises Ukrainian heroism'

ROME -- Pope Francis has condemned the "ferocity, cruelty" of Russian troops in Ukraine and praised the "heroism and courage" of Ukrainians who defended their land.

Pope condemns Russian 'cruelty' but praises Ukrainian heroism'

ROME -- Pope Francis has condemned the "ferocity, cruelty" of Russian troops in Ukraine and praised the "heroism and courage" of Ukrainians who defended their land.

Francis made some of the most controversial comments about war during a meeting of European editors of Jesuit journals. These excerpts were published in Tuesday's Italian dailies La Stampa e Avvenire.

Francis was harshly critical of Russia's invasion but also said that there were no "good guys or bad guys" and that Russia was, in some cases, provoked by NATO’s expansion to the east.

Francis stated, "Someone might argue at this point that you are for Putin!" It would be wrong and simplistic to say such a thing. I'm against simplifying the distinction between good or bad. This is without considering roots and interests which are extremely complex. We must remember the problems we have to solve, even as we witness the cruelty and ferocity of the Russian troops.

Francis said in the interview that he would like to meet Russian Patriarch Kirill (who has justified the war) when they attend an interfaith meeting to be held in Kazakhstan in September.

Francis stated that both sides had called off a June meeting to ensure their dialogue was not misunderstood.

He said that he hoped to be able "to greet him and talk with him a little as a pastor" in Kazakhstan.

Francis also praised the courage of the Ukrainians, reaffirmed their right to defend themselves, and attacked what he called the financial interests of weapons manufacturers in the war to "test and sale weapons."

"It's true that the Russians believed it would be over in one week. Francis stated that they had miscalculated. They found a brave people, a people fighting for survival and with a history of fighting.

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Follow the AP's coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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