Pope Francis suggested on Saturday that some countries were “playing games” with Ukraine by first providing arms and then considering withdrawing their commitments.
Pope Francis made the comments on a plane returning from a visit to the French port city of Marseille. He was responding to a reporter’s question about whether he was frustrated by the lack of success in efforts to bring peace. He dispatched Italy’s Cardinal Matteo Zuppi to Kiev, Moscow, Washington and Beijing to meet with local leaders.
He said he felt “some frustration” and then started talking randomly about the military industry and war.
“It seems to me that the stakes in this war are not only about Ukraine and Russia, but also about arms sales and arms trade,” he said.
“We shouldn’t play with the martyrdom of these people. We have to help them settle things…Now some countries are retreating because they don’t want to give arms (to Ukraine). “We see what is happening. The process of freeing the martyrs has begun. “Certainly the Ukrainian people will too, and it will be ugly,” he said.
Asked for clarification, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the pope had not taken a position on whether countries should continue or stop supplying weapons to Ukraine.
“This was a reflection of the consequences of the arms industry. The Pope said that arms traffickers never pay the consequences of their choices, and that people like Ukrainians must pay the price. “He was a martyr,” Bruni said, paradoxically.
Many countries, including the United States, are facing domestic political pressure to halt or reduce spending on arms sent to Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday appealed to U.S. lawmakers for continued support as some Republicans questioned whether Congress should approve additional aid.
Pope Francis condemns international arms trade in general, but said last year that it was morally justified for a nation to supply weapons to Ukraine to protect itself from Russian aggression.
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