Pope Francis' recent comments about a car bombing that killed the daughter of an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin should not be interpreted as a "political stance," the Vatican press office said.
Francis last week called for "concrete steps" to end the war in Ukraine and avert the risk of a nuclear disaster at the Zaporizhzhia power plant. In condemning wars as "madness," the Pope referred to the death of Darya Dugina, daughter of a prominent Russian ultranationalist, in an Aug. 20 car bombing near Moscow.
The Holy See said Tuesday that Francis has attempted "numerous interventions" to invite prayer and efforts to "rebuild peace" in Ukraine.
"On more than one occasion, as in recent days, public discussions have arisen on the political significance to be attached to such interventions," the press office release said.
"In this regard, it is reiterated that the Holy Father's words on this dramatic issue should be interpreted as a voice raised in defense of human life and the values associated with it, and not as a political stance."
The release added that the war in Ukraine was "initiated by the Russian Federation," and that the Pope's "interventions are clear and unequivocal in condemning it [war] as morally unjust, unacceptable, barbaric, senseless, repugnant and sacrilegious."
Francis has been criticized for some comments made after Russia began its invasion on Feb. 24.
The Pope in June insisted there weren't "good guys and bad guys" and that Russia was in some ways provoked by NATO's expansion east.
"Someone might say at this point, But you are in favor of Putin! No, I'm not," Francis said. "It would be simplistic and wrong to say such a thing. I am simply against reducing complexity to the distinction between good and bad, without thinking about roots and interests, which are very complex.
"While we see the ferocity, the cruelty of the Russian troops, we must not forget the problems to try to solve them."
Ukraine Vatican Ambassador Andrii Yurash took to Twitter to criticize the Pope for lamenting the car bombing that killed Dugina, daughter of Aleksandr Dugin, a prominent proponent of the "Russian world" concept ideology and a vehement supporter of Russia's sending of troops into Ukraine.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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