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Pope Francis called for more nuance in discussions of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, insisting that people are too quick to create “good boy” and “bad boy” labels for a complex global situation that amounts to a “third war.” world “in progress.
“A few years ago it occurred to me to say that we are experiencing a third world war fought in pieces,” the pope told the editors of La Civilta Cattolica. “Today, for me, the third world war has been declared”.
The pope’s extensive interview with Cattolica’s editorial team, released on Tuesday, acknowledged the atrocities in Ukraine, but the pope warned that many people “miss the whole drama … that is unfolding behind this war.”
“What we are seeing is the brutality and ferocity with which this war is waged by the troops, generally mercenary, used by the Russians,” said Pope Francis. “In reality, the Russians prefer to send Chechens, Syrians, mercenaries forward.”
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The pope referred to the possibility that the war was “provoked or not prevented” and that there was “interest in testing and selling weapons”.
“At this point someone can tell me: but you are pro-Putin! No, I am not,” the pope insisted. “It would be simplistic and wrong to say such a thing.”
“I am simply against turning a complex situation into a distinction between good and bad, without considering the roots and personal interests, which are very complex,” he said.
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The pope also took the time to praise the “brave” Ukrainian people who “are struggling to survive and have a history of conflict”.
But he linked the invasion of Ukraine to other conflicts around the world, such as in parts of Africa “where the war is on and nobody cares”.
“Think of Rwanda 25 years ago. Think of Myanmar and the Rohingya,” he said. “The world is at war”.
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“What is happening to humanity that has had three world wars in one century?” She added. “I experienced the first war through the memory of my grandfather on the Piave, then the second and now the third, and this is an evil for humanity, a calamity”.
The Pope blamed the arms manufacturers and arms dealers, who he said were happy to see their products tested in conflict.
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“What we have before our eyes is a situation of world war, global interests, arms sales and geopolitical appropriation, which is martyring a heroic people”.