Pope Francisc

Francis (in Latin: Franciscus PP.), Until his election Jorge Mario Bergolio - Pope of March 13 for the first time implicitly criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine, world agencies reported, quoted by Nova TV.

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In a speech to the Maltese authorities, where he arrived on a two-day visit earlier today, the pope said "some man in power" is fueling conflicts driven by nationalist interests.

Pope Francis with a new appeal for peace in Ukraine

"From the east of Europe, from the land of the rising sun, the dark shadows of war are now spreading. We thought that invasions of other countries, savage street battles and nuclear threats were grim memories of a distant past," the pope told Maltese authorities.

"But the icy winds of war, which bring only death, destruction and hatred, have swept away many people's lives and affected us all," he said.

"Again, a man in power, sadly trapped in the anachronistic call of nationalist interests, is provoking and inciting conflict," the pope said.

On several occasions before, the pope strongly condemned unjustified aggression and the atrocities of war.

But he is directly referring to Russia only in prayers, such as the one said during a global peace event on March 25.

"Let the night of the war that has descended on humanity not allow the dream of peace to wither," the pope said today.

Earlier on the plane, en route to Malta, he said he was considering a trip to Kyiv.

But he did not go into more detail.

The pope was invited to visit Ukraine by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, Ukrainian Ambassador to the Vatican Andriy Yurash and Ukrainian senior clerics.

In his speech to the Maltese authorities, which the Pope delivered at the Presidential Palace in the Maltese capital Valletta, he also mentioned migration, AFP reported.

The Pope called for global and shared answers to the urgent need for migration.

The call came at a time when millions of people are fleeing the war in Ukraine.

"The expansion of emergency migration - let's think about the refugees from martyrdom Ukraine - invites us to big and shared answers. It is impossible for some countries to bear the burden of the whole problem while others remain indifferent," the pope said.

He also criticized the EU-Libya agreement, which allows the EU to return migrants to Libya, and said Europe must show humanity by accepting them, the Associated Press reported.

He called on the Mediterranean to be a theater of solidarity, not a harbinger of the tragic collapse of civilization.

He was referring to the EU's seven-year training program for the Libyan coast guard, which is patrolling Libya's coast in an operation against migrant traffickers and returning captured migrants to Libya.

The program was approved and strongly supported by Italy and other countries on the front lines of the migration wave, but human rights organizations criticized it and described it as a violation of migrants' rights.

They also documented major abuses in the migrant camps housing returned migrants in Libya.

Francis has now compared these migrant centers to concentration camps and criticized the EU for its complicity in the atrocities.

"Civilized countries cannot approve, for their own interests, of shameless agreements with criminals who enslave human beings," the pope said, adding that, unfortunately, such a thing is happening.

He said that migrants are not a virus that people should beware of, but people that should be accepted.

The pope recalled that migrants are not a threat and warned that people should not succumb to the temptation to build walls against them.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine

Pope Francisc