Pope Francis offered his most pointed condemnation of the war in Ukraine, calling out "infantile and destructive aggression" on Saturday during a trip to Malta.
In words that appeared to directly call out President Vladimir Putin, the pope said that "some potentate" caught up in "anachronistic claims of nationalist interests, is provoking and fomenting conflicts".
"We had thought that invasions of other countries, savage street fighting and atomic threats were grim memories of a distant past," the pope added in his speech.
He told reporters on the way to Malta that a possible trip to the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv was "on the table".
The Vatican has resisted calling out aggressors in order to allow for dialogue and had recently forged unprecedented new relations with the Putin-allied Russian Orthodox Church.
The visit to Malta, which was rescheduled from May 2020, was meant to focus on migration.
Speaking with the Mediterranean island's president by his side, Francis denounced the “sordid agreements” the European Union has made with Libya to turn back migrants.
He said Europe must show humanity in welcoming them. He called for the Mediterranean to be a “theatre of solidarity, not the harbinger of a tragic shipwreck of civilisation.”