In view of the war in Ukraine, Pope Francis has called on the world community to break away from the usual good-evil scheme. “What we are seeing is the brutality and cruelty with which this war is being waged by the troops, usually mercenaries, deployed by the Russians,” he told European cultural journals of the Jesuit order in an interview published on Tuesday.

“But the danger is that we only see what is egregious and don’t see the full drama that is playing out behind this war, which perhaps in some ways was either provoked or not prevented. And I register the interest in testing and selling weapons. It’s very sad, but that’s obviously the point.”

The head of the Catholic Church said that some might object to him at this point that he was pro-Putin. “No, that’s not me. To say such a thing would be simplistic and wrong. I’m simply opposed to reducing complexity to the distinction between good and evil without thinking about the roots and interests, which are very complex,” Francis stressed.

What is happening in Ukraine now affects people in Europe more because it is closer to them. But there are also other countries where the war is still going on and nobody cares. He thinks of northern Nigeria, northern Congo, the genocide in Rwanda 25 years ago and Myanmar and the Rohingya.

“The world is at war. A few years ago I got the idea to say that we are experiencing World War III in bits and pieces. That’s how the Third World War broke out for me today,” said the Pope. “It’s something that should give us food for thought. What has happened to humanity that has endured three world wars in one century?” he added. The interview had already been conducted in mid-May. Francis himself belongs to the Jesuit order.

In the interview, he also spoke via a video call with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, who had supported Russian President Vladimir Putin from the start and also legitimized the war. He said to Kirill: “Brother, we are not state clerics, we are shepherds of the people.”