Pope calls for Easter truce in Ukraine


Pope Francis on Sunday called for an Easter truce in Ukraine, and in an apparent reference to Russia, questioned the value of planting a victory flag "on a heap of rubble".

Pope Francis spoke at the end of a Palm Sunday service for about 50,000 people in St. Peter's Square, the first time since 2019 that the public was allowed to attend following two years of scaled back services because of COVID-19 restrictions.

"Put the weapons down! Let An Easter truce start. But not to re-arm and resume combat but a truce to reach peace through real negotiations open to some sacrifices for the good of the people," he said.

A flare-up of pain in his knee forced Francis, 85, to skip the traditional procession from the obelisk at the centre of the square to the altar on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica.

He watched instead while seated at the altar and later limped as he said the Mass.

Francis earlier evoked the horrors of war in his sermon, speaking of "mothers who mourn the unjust death of husbands and sons...refugees who flee from bombs with children in their arms...young people deprived of a future...soldiers sent to kill their brothers and sisters".

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