Pope Francis: peace must be ultimate goal ‘even in cases of self-defence’

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis has evoked the conflict in Ukraine as he called war “madness” and argued that “even in cases of self-defence, peace is the ultimate goal”.

Francis, who was hospitalised on Wednesday with a respiratory infection, spoke via a video message recorded sometime before his health took a turn for the worse, a Vatican spokesman said.

“War is madness. It’s beyond reason. Any war, any armed confrontation, always ends in defeat for all,” the pope said in his latest videoed monthly invitation to prayer.

“Let us develop a culture of peace. Let us remember that, even in cases of self-defence, peace is the ultimate goal, and that a lasting peace can exist only without weapons,” he added.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Francis has pleaded for peace practically on a weekly basis, but initially stopped short of an outright condemnation for Moscow.

This month he told Italian Swiss television RSI that the war in Ukraine was fuelled “by imperial interests, not just of the Russian empire, but of empires from elsewhere”.

Francis has repeatedly expressed a wish to act as a peace broker between Kyiv and Moscow, but his offer has so far failed to produce any breakthrough.

(Reporting by Alvise Armellini; Editing by Frances Kerry)