‘Rivers of blood and sorrow flow from Ukraine,’ Pope Francis said, accusing President Vladimir Putin of “sowing death and ruin” and insisting that his invasion is “not a military operation, but a war.”

Pope Francis has said that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is ‘not a military operation, but a war’ while criticizing President Vladimir Putin.

During his Angelus address to the world, the head of the Catholic Church led this Sunday’s prayer at the Vatican with the Russian invasion of Ukraine as his point of focus, making calls to stop the war and to allow humanitarian corridors to keep people safe.

In his address, the Pope said: ‘Rivers of blood and tears are flowing in Ukraine. This is not just a military operation but a war which is sowing death, destruction and misery.’

In a prayer said for the first Sunday of Lent, Pope Francis spoke at the Vatican in the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, facing thousands of people, with many holding Ukrainian flags or placards with messages of solidarity with the country under attack.

He said of the conflict: ‘True happiness and freedom do not lie in possessing, but in sharing, not taking advantage of others but in loving them, not in the obsession of power, but in the joy of service.

‘We must be vigilant because they often present themselves under an apparent form of good. In fact, the devil, who is cunning, always uses deception, and [he even knows] how to disguise himself with sacred, apparently religious motives.’

The Pope also noted that there are ‘no compromises with evil’, much like there has been little compromise from President Putin on his devastating actions on Ukraine.

‘Let us take time for silence and prayer, during which we can stop and look at what is stirring in our hearts…’ he said.

‘Placing ourselves before the Word of God in prayer, so that a positive fight against the evil that enslaves us, a fight for freedom, may take place within us.’

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