Pope Francis calls for joint peace effort with Patriarch Kirill
Pope Francis leads the audience to the pastoral community of "Our Lady of Tears" at St. Paul VI Hall. Evandro Inetti/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
Pope Francis leads the audience to the pastoral community of "Our Lady of Tears" at St. Paul VI Hall. Evandro Inetti/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

The head of the Roman Catholic Church has called on the head of the Russian Orthodox Church for a joint effort to end the war in Ukraine.

"May the Holy Spirit change our hearts and turn us into peacemakers, in particular for war-torn Ukraine," Pope France wrote in Russian to Patriarch Kirill on the occasion of Easter in the Orthodox Church, which was celebrated on Sunday.

Francis wrote of a "new dawn" that people in Ukraine were seeking and that would put an end to the "darkness of war."

Kirill, who is seen as a staunch ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has backed the invasion of Ukraine in his sermons.

Speaking to the Argentine newspaper La Nación last week, Francis said that a meeting between the two church leaders planned for Jerusalem in June had been cancelled.

There had previously been speculation that they could meet during a trip by Francis to Lebanon.

The two leaders last spoke by video on March 16.