Pope Francis called for a halt to attacks in Ukraine on Sunday so that aid can reach the exhausted population and urged leaders to listen to the voices of the people who fear an escalation.
He noted that the day that most Eastern Christians, including Orthodox and Catholics in Ukraine and Russia, celebrate Easter coincided with the two month mark of the war.
The war has become more harsh instead of stopping, he said from the window of the official papal study.
I renew my appeal for an Easter truce, the minimum and tangible sign of a willingness for peace. Stop the attacks in order to help the exhausted population. Francis said something.
As Christians celebrated Orthodox Easter, there was no end to the war that has killed thousands, uprooted millions more and reduced cities to rubble. Ukraine said two children were among those killed in shelling on Sunday.
It is sad that the deadly sound of weapons is heard more than the sound of bells that announce the resurrection in these days that are the most holy and solemn for all Christians. It is sad that weapons are increasingly taking the place of words, Francis said.
Francis, 85, has not specifically mentioned Russia or its president, Vladimir Putin, since the beginning of the conflict, but he left little doubt which side he criticised, using terms such as unjustified aggression and invasion and lamenting atrocities against civilians.
Putin, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, described Moscow's actions as a military operation in Ukraine aimed at demilitating and denazifying the country. Francis has rejected Russia's terminology and called it a war that has caused rivers of blood Earlier in the day Francis attended but did not preside at a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, the latest time over the Easter season when a flare up of pain in his knee forced him to curtail some activities. He read the homily in a clear and strong voice while seated.