Pope Francis gives his Angelus blessing from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square © Alessandra Tarantino
A comprehensive ceasefire in eastern Ukraine is to take effect on Monday. Pope Francis has welcomed this and urged the parties to the conflict to actually implement the agreement. In addition, the pope had an appeal for the youth of the world.
Pope Francis has praised the recently agreed new ceasefire for eastern Ukraine. "I welcome this sign of goodwill, but I ask that this agreement also finally be implemented," he said at Sunday's noon prayer in St. Peter's Square. What is needed now, he said, is actual disarmament and mine clearance. This is the only way to build the "trust necessary for the reconciliation that is so necessary".
Ceasefires already not respected several times
The comprehensive ceasefire agreement reached last week in Minsk by representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE is scheduled to take effect on Monday. Already several agreements for a ceasefire have broken down in recent years.
Ukrainian government forces have been fighting pro-Russian separatists in the eastern mining district of Donbass since early 2014. Kiev and West accuse Russia of supporting insurgents; Moscow rejects it. According to United Nations estimates, more than 13 people have been killed in the six-year conflict.000 people killed.
Pope to youth: be creative to be in contact with the elderly
Pope Francis has urged young people to be more creative in seeking contact with the elderly. In recent months, many elderly people have been left alone in their homes or in institutions, often without contact with relatives, the head of the church said at the midday prayer in St. Peter's Square. "Do not leave them alone, use the imagination of love," Francis urged young people.
"Make phone calls, video calls, text messages, listen to them and where possible visit them while respecting health regulations," the Pope continued. Old people are like roots for the young: without them, they cannot grow and blossom. He concluded by asking for a spontaneous round of applause for all the grandparents of the world.
The occasion of the pope's appeal is the 26th anniversary. July as feast day of Joachim and Anna. These are traditionally venerated in the Catholic Church as the parents of Mary and thus the grandparents of Jesus.