Pope Francis Decries ‘Rivers of Blood and Tears’ Flowing in War-torn Ukraine

ROME — Pope Francis employed his strongest rhetoric to date to condemn the ongoing Russian attack on Ukraine, calling for an end to the assault and the establishment of humanitarian corridors for those fleeing.

“Rivers of blood and tears are flowing in Ukraine,” the pontiff told crowds gathered in the Vatican Sunday for his weekly Angelus address. “It is not merely a military operation, but a war, which sows death, destruction and misery.”

“The number of victims is increasing, as are the people fleeing, especially mothers and children,” he lamented. “The need for humanitarian assistance in that troubled country is growing dramatically by the hour.”

“I make a heartfelt appeal for humanitarian corridors to be genuinely secured, and for aid to be guaranteed and access facilitated to the besieged areas, in order to offer vital relief to our brothers and sisters oppressed by bombs and fear,” he added.

The pope went on to call for an end to the violence and for respect for international law, while also thanking those assisting the Ukrainian refugees and the journalists reporting on the conflict.

“I thank all those who are taking in refugees,” he said. “Above all, I implore that the armed attacks cease and that negotiation – and common sense – prevail. And that international law be respected once again!”

“I would also like to thank the journalists who put their lives at risk to provide information,” Francis said. “Thank you, brothers and sisters, for this service! A service that allows us to be close to the tragedy of that population and enables us to assess the cruelty of a war.”

In conclusion, the pope called for prayers for Ukraine and its people, while also asserting the readiness of the Vatican to intermediate in any way possible to help bring the crisis to a close.

“The Holy See is ready to do everything, to put itself at the service of this peace,” he said. “In these days, two Cardinals went to Ukraine, to serve the people, to help. Cardinal Krajewski, the Almoner, to bring aid to the needy, and Cardinal Czerny, interim Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.”

“The presence of the two Cardinals there is the presence not only of the Pope, but of all the Christian people who want to get closer and say: ‘War is madness! Stop, please! Look at this cruelty!’” he said.

Follow @tdwilliamsrome

Thomas D. Williams Ph.D.