Pope Francis called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “cruel and senseless war of aggression.”

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Pope Francis condemned “armed conquest, expansionism and imperialism” on Thursday and called Putin’s invasion of Ukraine a “brutal and senseless war of aggression”.

“Reconciliation between divided Christians, as a means of promoting peace between conflicting peoples, is the most timely consideration in our day, when our world is destroyed by a cruel and senseless war of aggression in which many, many Christians are fighting each other,” The Pope told the delegation Orthodox leaders.

Earlier this week, the Pope condemned “barbaric” missile attack on Ukrainian shopping center who left 18 dead, saying that every day he carries “dear and tortured Ukraine” in his heart.

Pope Francis delivers a sermon during the Epiphany Mass at St. Peter's Basilica, Jan.  December 6, 2022 in Vatican City, Vatican City.

Pope Francis delivers a sermon during the Epiphany Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, Jan. December 6, 2022 in Vatican City, Vatican City.
(Alevatican Basin/Getty Images)

The Pope’s comments this week mark a stronger condemnation of Russia’s actions since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February. 24.

Last month, he caused worldwide surprise when he suggested to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that “NATO barking at Russia’s door“Perhaps forced Russia to invade.

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Then, in an interview published on June 18, the Pope said that the war “perhaps somehow either provoked or not prevented.”

“Someone can tell me at this moment: but you are in Putin’s favor! No, it’s not, he told the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica. – It would be a simplification and wrong to say that. I’m just against reducing complexity to distinguish between good and evil without thinking about roots and interests, which are very complex.”

The Vatican has sought to maintain a relationship with Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and a key Putin ally.

Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill (left) and Pope Francis talk during a meeting at Jose Marti Airport in Havana, Cuba, in February 2016.

Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill (left) and Pope Francis talk during a meeting at Jose Marti Airport in Havana, Cuba, in February 2016.
(Adalberto Roque / pool photo via AP)

Pope Francis and Kirill meet in Cuba in 2016, when the pontiff and the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church met in person after the Great Schism of 1054.

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They were supposed to meet in Jerusalem earlier this month, but the Vatican canceled the trip in April.

In May, Pope Francis said that Kirill should be careful not to “turn into Putin’s servant.” criticism of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Reuters contributed to this report.