CWN - Pope Francis and other religious leaders recalled the eightieth anniversary of the Holodomor (“extermination by hunger”), the Stalin-era famine in which an estimate 3.0-3.5 million Ukrainians perished.

Pope Francis recalled the Holodomor during his November 24 Angelus address, referring to it as the “great famine provoked by the Soviet regime that led to millions of victims.”

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople wrote that “as we prayerfully commemorate the tragic and inhumane events during the years 1932-1933, when countless people lost their lives through deliberate and brutal famine, we pray for the repose of the victims’ souls and for the healing of this painful wound in the conscience of your blessed nation.”

“It is impossible to fathom the magnitude and intensity of such hostility, which caused human beings to destroy other human beings created ‘in the image and likeness’ of God – all supposedly in the name of political ideologies, but ultimately only fuelled by falsehood and godlessness,” he added.

“In commemorating the victims of this terrible genocide, let us pray for all who have died from starvation,” said Roman Catholic Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki of Lviv, according to the Religious Information Service of Ukraine. “Let us ask the Almighty Lord that they have received the heavenly repast from which they will not feel any scarcity, and so their greatest happiness will be to be satisfied by the beauty of the Face of God,”

In a joint statement, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate urged the faithful to pray for the repose of the souls of the victims.

“Eighty years ago, the Ukrainian people were subjected to unimaginable suffering as a result of the deliberate policies of the regime of Joseph Stalin,” the White House press secretary said in a statement. “Ukrainian men, women, and children died of starvation as the product of their labor was seized in an effort to break the will of a proud people.”