​Pope: Stop fratricide violence in Ukraine, stop pushing for ‘victory’

Pope Francis (Reuters / Alessandro Bianchi)
Pope Francis has called on the parties to the Ukrainian civil war to stop the violence between Christians and seek a compromise path towards peace.

“Let us pray to the Lord so that this horrible fratricide violence may cease as soon as possible,” the head of the Roman Catholic Church said speaking at the end of the weekly General Audience.

Speaking off-the-cuff, Pope Francis said that when he hears the words ‘victory’ or ‘defeat’ he feels great pain, great sadness in his heart, the Vatican news service reported.

“They are not the right words. The only right word is peace. This is the only right word.” he explained.

“I think of you, Ukrainian brothers and sisters, this is a war between Christians,” the pontiff added.

Earlier the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill thanked the Holy See for taking a balanced stance on the Ukrainian conflict and calling for peace in that troubled land.

The war in Ukraine has claimed at least 5,350 lives since April 2014, according to the latest UN count. So far all attempts to stop violence and engage the belligerents into dialogue failed to produce a lasting truce. The clashes between troops loyal to Kiev and rebel forces escalated in January.