Pope Francis has called for an Easter truce between Ukraine and Russia. The head of the Roman Catholic Church made the appeal on April 10, Palm Sunday on the church calendar.

The pontiff mentioned neither Ukraine nor Russia by name in his remarks before the Angelus prayer. But several news outlets – including the official Vatican News – saw clear references to the War in Ukraine contained in the pope's words.

'Let the weapons be put down!'

"Let the weapons be put down! Let the Easter truce begin," Pope Francis said. The pontiff said what was needed was not a pause in fighting which enabled armies to prepare for more combat.

Rather, there should be a truce that would lead to "real negotiation that is even disposed to some sacrifice for the good of the people," he said.

Pope Francis called up Catholics to pray about "heinous massacres and atrocious cruelty committed against defenseless civilians." He went on to say God could "even bring an end to a war whose end is not in sight." He added, "Nothing is impossible for God." The pontiff's remarks can be read in their entirety at the Vatican News website.

Reuters noted that most Ukrainians were not Catholic but rather Orthodox Christians.

Unlike Catholics who celebrated Easter this year on April 17, Orthodox Christians would celebrate Easter on April 24, the news agency said.

Ukrainian Catholics in Canada and USA

There is a Ukrainian Catholic presence in Canada and the United States. The day before the pope's remarks, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted a photo of himself standing in front of a 100-year-old Ukrainian Catholic Church in Gatineau, Quebec.

The Canadian leader noted that St. Onuphrius Church was now enclosed in the Canadian Museum of History but remained a consecrated place of worship. Trudeau said he was at the church to support the StandUpForUkraine initiative.

The Interfax-Ukraine News Agency reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had thanked Trudeau for supporting the initiative and for providing Ukraine with financial assistance.

Civilians told to leave eastern Ukraine

On April 11, The New York Times reported that the Russian military was preparing a new assault on the eastern area of Ukraine which had been dominated by separatists. The Ukrainian government was warning civilians to leave the area, the paper said. There had been reports, however, of refugees being killed on roads throughout the country, the paper noted.

Palm Sunday Mass outdoors again

The Associated Press reported that the April 10 Palm Sunday Mass had been held outdoors for the first time in two years. Social distancing measures, made necessary by the coronavirus, had compelled the Vatican to conduct the sacrament indoors, the news agency said.