Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned “the massacre of Bucha” and kissed a Ukrainian flag sent from the town where tied bodies shot at close range littered the streets after Russian troops withdrew and bodies poked out of a mass grave at a church.
The deaths in Bucha, outside Kyiv, have triggered a global outcry and pledges of further sanctions against Moscow from the West.
“Recent news from the war in Ukraine, instead of bringing relief and hope, brought new atrocities, such as the massacre of Bucha,” Francis said at the end of his weekly audience in the Vatican’s auditorium.
“Stop this war! Let the weapons fall silent! Stop sowing death and destruction,” he said, decrying cruelty against civilians, defenceless women and children.
The Kremlin says allegations Russian forces committed war crimes by executing civilians including in Bucha were a “monstrous forgery” aimed at denigrating the Russian army.
Francis said the darkened and stained flag, which had writing and symbols on it was brought to him from Bucha on Tuesday.
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