Pope Francis joins U.N. appeal for Orthodox Easter truce in Ukraine

Pope Francis joins U.N. appeal for Orthodox Easter truce in Ukraine

Pope Francis supports the appeal by the heads of the United Nations and Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church for a four-day “Easter truce” so those trapped in Ukraine’s war zones can be evacuated, the Vatican said Thursday.

According to a statement released by the Vatican’s press office, “The Holy See and the Holy Father join the appeal” by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who heads the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, “for a truce on the occasion of the celebration of Easter according to the Julian calendar,” which takes place Sunday.

“In the knowledge that nothing is impossible for God, they invoke the Lord so that the population trapped in war zones may be evacuated and peace may soon be restored, and they ask those leading the nations to listen to the people’s cry for peace,” the Vatican statement said.

This is the second time the pope has sounded a call for a cease-fire in the nation that Russia invaded on Feb. 24.

Addressing pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square on April 10, which is Palm Sunday according to the Gregorian calendar, the pope asked for a truce, saying, “Let the weapons be put down! Let the Easter truce begin.”

The pontiff has condemned the war but has not yet referred to Russia or Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin by name. Francis has spoken by video call with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill since the invasion but has not publicly called on the Putin-aligned spiritual leader to disavow the war.