'Stop The War’: Pope Francis Pleads For Negotiation And Peace In Ukraine, Gaza Wars

The pope issued a plea for an end to the wars raging in Ukraine and Gaza during a rare interview with CBS News on Wednesday.

“Please. Countries at war, all of them, stop the war. Look to negotiate. Look for peace,” Pope Francis told “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell during the hourlong interview.

“A negotiated peace is better than a war without end,” the leader of the Roman Catholic Church said.

Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 that has destroyed infrastructure and killed civilians. According to the United Nations, the war has killed more than 10,000 civilians and injured nearly 20,000 others. Millions have been displaced, and Russia now occupies 26% of its neighboring country.

After decades of tension between Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and Israel, the militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, killing approximately 1,200 people and taking about 240 people hostage. Israel retaliated with an ongoing offensive that has killed more than 30,000 people and displaced almost the entire population.

According to a report from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) in March, access to food is “catastrophic” and famine is “imminent” in Gaza, where Israel has blocked aid deliveries from entering.

The pope said on Wednesday that he has been calling people in Gaza every day to hear about their “very hard” experiences.

“Food goes in, but they have to fight for it,” he said.

Civilians in Ukraine are also living under precarious conditions, and the pope spoke about how war affects the children in the country. Homes, health care facilities and other infrastructure have been damaged, and more than 1,200 children have been killed or injured in the war, according to the United Nations.

“Those kids don’t know how to smile,” the pontiff said. “I tell them something, but they forgot how to smile. And this is very hard when a child forgets to smile. That’s really very serious. Very serious.”

The pope’s comments on Wednesday echo previous statements he has made about the two wars. He has frequently brought up Israel and Hamas in his addresses and has described the fighting as “terrorism.”

“Here we’ve gone beyond war. This isn’t war anymore, this is terrorism,” Francis said in November. “Please, let us go ahead with peace. Pray for peace, pray a lot for peace.”

During his Easter Sunday Mass earlier this month, he called for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and a prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine, CBS News reported.