“Once again, some powerful, caught in the anachronistic claims of nationalist interests, are fomenting new conflicts. Meanwhile, ordinary people know that a future will either be together or not at all,” Pope Francis said after arriving in Malta. However, as on previous occasions, the 85-year-old did not name either Russia or its President Vladimir Putin. Nonetheless, he denounced the attack on Ukraine in its clearest and most personal form yet.
The Vatican tends not to condemn aggressors, hoping to keep options open for dialogue. The Papal States, which in recent years have forged unprecedented new ties with the Russian Orthodox Church, allied with Putin, had offered themselves as potential mediators but have so far been largely left on the diplomatic sidelines. The pope indicated that he was considering a trip to Kyiv: “Yes, that’s on the table,” he replied to a question from a journalist who was traveling with him.
“The Frosty Winds of War”
“We thought that invasions from other countries, brutal street fighting and nuclear threats were dark reminders of a distant past,” Pope Francis said in his address to diplomats. “But the chilling winds of war, which bring only death, destruction, and hatred, have rushed arrogantly over the lives of many and the days of all.” The war hurt his heart so much that he sometimes forgets the pain in his knees. Francis has been suffering from an infection in his right knee for months, which has gotten so bad that he had to be lifted in and out of the plane in an elevator.
Pope Francis visits Malta for two days. Every year, the smallest EU country is the destination of thousands of migrants who make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe from North Africa. In addition, corruption is a well-known problem for the approximately 500,000 inhabitants of Malta. The murder of the Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017, who was killed by a car bomb, caused a worldwide sensation. Previously, she researched corruption surrounding a deal for a power plant that also involved top-level politicians.
rb/uh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)