Nov 23, 2022 - World

Pope Francis compares Russia's invasion of Ukraine to Stalin-era famine

Photo of Pope Francis speaking into a mic

Pope Francis delivers his blessing to the faithful at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, Vatican on Nov. 23, 2022. Photo: Riccardo De Luca/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Pope Francis compared Russia's invasion of Ukraine to a brutal Stalin-era famine on Wednesday in one of his sharpest condemnations yet, the New York Times reports.

Driving the news: During his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, the pope asked people to commemorate "the terrible Holodomor genocide, the extermination by hunger of 1932-33 artificially caused by Stalin" alongside Ukrainians on Saturday.

  • "Let us pray for the victims of this genocide and let us pray for all Ukrainians, the children, the women and the elderly, the babies who are today suffering the martyrdom of aggression," he said.
  • "Let us pray for peace in the world, and for an end to all conflicts, with a special thought for the terrible suffering of the dear and martyred people of Ukraine."
  • The fourth Saturday of November marks National Holodomor Remembrance Day in Ukraine.

The history: Between 1932 and 1933, millions of Ukrainians were killed in Soviet Ukraine amid the Holodomor, a famine engineered by Joseph Stalin's government.

  • The mass starvation was intended to wipe out any attempts to seek independence for Ukraine, experts say.
  • At the height of the famine, over 25,000 people died per day, according to the Kyiv-based National Museum of the Holodomor-Genocide.

The big picture: Nearly 6,600 Ukrainian civilians have been killed since the start of Russia's invasion, the UN Human Rights Office said Monday. That estimate is likely far lower than actual figures.

Go deeper: Russia insists war in Ukraine will continue "until all the goals" are met

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