Pope Francis blesses the faithful during his weekly general audience at Paul 6th Audience Hall in the Vatican on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. AFP PHOTO
VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis renewed calls for a ceasefire in the “absurd and cruel” war in Ukraine on Wednesday, two days before the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of the country.
“The death toll, wounded, refugees, those isolated, destruction, economic and social damage speak for themselves,” the 86-year-old pontiff told his weekly general audience.
Francis noted that Friday marks one year since the war began, calling it “an absurd and cruel war, a sad anniversary.”
He urged all powers to make “concrete efforts to end the conflict, reach a ceasefire and start peace negotiations.”
The pope has repeatedly called for an end to the conflict since Russian troops marched into Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, even expressing a desire to travel to Kyiv and Moscow — trips that have not taken place.
His offers to try to broker a peace have come to nothing.