Pope says war in Ukraine would be "madness," backs talks

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Pope Francis arrives for the weekly general audience at the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican, February 9, 2022. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

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VATICAN CITY, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Pope Francis said on Wednesday that war in Ukraine would be "madness" and hoped that tensions between that country and Russia could be overcome through multi-lateral dialogue.

Speaking at his Wednesday general audience, Francis thanked those who took part in his Jan. 26 international day of prayer for peace in Ukraine.

"Let us continue to beg the God of peace so that the tensions and threats of war can be overcome through a serious dialogue and that the Normandy Format talks can contribute to this aim," he said, referring to negotiations involving Russia and Ukraine, facilitated by Germany and France.

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"And let's not forget. War is madness," he said.

Russia has massed troops near Ukraine but denies Western accusations that it is planning an attack.

Most Ukrainians follow Orthodox Christianity, but the country is also home to its own branch of the Catholic Church, which practices an eastern rite similar to Orthodox worship while proclaiming loyalty to the Pope in Rome.

On Tuesday, the leader of Ukraine's Eastern-rite Catholics said he has invited Francis to visit, calling it a huge gesture that would help being peace. read more

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Reporting by Philip Pullella Editing by Peter Graff

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