In comments at the end of his weekly general audience on Wednesday, Francis reiterated the call to prayer for the “terrible suffering for the dear and martyred Ukrainian people”. He recalled that Saturday marks the 90th anniversary of the famine, which Ukraine commemorates every fourth Saturday of November with a Day of Remembrance.
“Saturday marks the anniversary of the appalling genocide of the Holodomor, the extermination by starvation artificially induced by Stalin between 1932-1933,” said Francis. “Let us pray for the victims of this genocide and let us pray for so many Ukrainians – children, women, the elderly, babies – who are suffering the martyrdom of aggression today.”
Academic opinion remains divided on whether the famine constitutes a “genocide”, with the main question being whether Stalin deliberately intended to kill Ukrainians as an attempt to crush an independence movement against the Soviet Union, or whether the famine in the was primarily the result of official incompetence. along with natural conditions. Regardless, the “great famine” caused lingering Ukrainian bitterness towards Soviet Russian rule.
The Vatican, in its 2004 Compendium of the Social Teaching of the Church, lists Ukrainians along with Armenians and Jews as victims of genocides in the 20th century, saying: “Attempts to eliminate entire national, ethnic, religious or linguistic groups are crimes against God and humanity itself. , and those responsible for such crimes must be held accountable before the courts.”
Francis has repeatedly called for peace and an end to war, has sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine and has called unceasingly for prayer for the “martyred” Ukrainian people. But he has generally refused to blame or even name Russia or President Vladimir Putin, echoing the Kremlin’s complaints that NATO was “barking at its door” at its eastern expansion.
The Vatican has a tradition of not calling out aggressors, believing that behind-the-scenes diplomacy is more effective than public denunciation. The Holy See is also keen to maintain relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, which has strongly supported the Kremlin during the war.
According to the Holomodor Museum, 16 states besides Ukraine have recognized the famine as genocide: Australia, Ecuador, Estonia, Canada, Colombia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, the United States and the Vatican. Some other countries, such as Argentina, Chile and Spain, have condemned it as “an act of extermination”.
Francis enraged Turkey in 2015 when he publicly declared the Ottoman-era massacre of Armenians to be genocide from the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica. This summer, during an on-air press conference on his way home from Canada, Francis agreed that the attempt to eradicate Indigenous culture in Canada through a church-run school system amounted to a cultural “genocide”, although he neglected to say this when he was in Canada. Canada itself.