Taking a dim view of the "grave" situation that has arisen in recent days, Pope Francis made an appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war and also to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "to be open to serious proposals" for peace, reported Vatican News citing a working translation of the pontiff's address in Italian.
"My appeal is addressed first and foremost to the President of the Russian Federation, imploring him to stop this spiral of violence and death, also for the sake of his own people. On the other hand, saddened at the immense suffering of the Ukrainian people as a result of the aggression they have suffered, I address an equally confident appeal to the President of Ukraine to be open to serious proposals for peace," he said.
The speech was given by Pope Francis before leading the recitation of Sunday's midday Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's Square. He expressed "great concern" and said that the course of the war in Ukraine has become "so serious, devastating and threatening."
Calling for an immediate ceasefire, Pope said it will be so if conditions for negotiations are "based on respect for the sacrosanct value of human life, as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country", and the rights of minorities and legitimate concerns.
"I deeply deplore the grave situation that has arisen in recent days, with further actions contrary to the principles of international law. It increases the risk of nuclear escalation, giving rise to fears of uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences worldwide."
As it prolongs, Pope termed the war a "terrible and inconceivable wound to humanity", and said that instead of healing the war continues to shed "even more blood, risking to spread" further.
"I am saddened by the rivers of blood and tears spilled in these months. I am saddened by the thousands of victims, especially children, and the destruction which has left many people and families homeless and threatened vast territories with cold and hunger."
"Certain actions can never be justified, never!" Pope said.
Several Ukrainian regions have been in the headlines over alleged mass graves or due to the imminent risk to the nuclear plants. Taking note of the past such developments, Pope distressingly told the gathering that "it is disturbing that the world is learning the geography of Ukraine through names such as Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, Izium, Zaparizhzhia and other areas, which have become places of indescribable suffering and fear."
Pope Francis described the war "absurd" and questioned, "What is to happen next? How much blood must still flow for us to realize that war is never a solution, only destruction?"
"In the name of God and in the name of the sense of humanity that dwells in every heart, I renew my call for an immediate ceasefire. Let there be a halt to arms, and let us seek the conditions for negotiations that will lead to solutions that are not imposed by force, but consensual, just and stable."
The pontiff urged all the protagonists of international life and the political leaders of nations to do everything possible to bring an end to the war, without allowing themselves to be drawn into dangerous escalations, and to promote and support initiatives for dialogue.
"Please let the younger generations breathe the holy air of peace, not the polluted air of war, which is madness! After seven months of hostilities, let us use all diplomatic means, even those that may not have been used so far, to bring an end to this terrible tragedy. War in itself is an error and a horror!" (ANI)