ROME — Pope Francis called upon Russian President Vladimir Putin Sunday to put an end to his assault on the people of Ukraine.

“I deeply deplore the grave situation that has arisen in recent days, with further actions contrary to the principles of international law,” the pontiff said during his weekly Angelus address. “It increases the risk of nuclear escalation, giving rise to fears of uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences worldwide.”

“In the name of God and in the name of the sense of humanity that dwells in every heart, I renew my call for an immediate ceasefire,” the pope said. “My appeal is addressed first and foremost to the President of the Russian Federation, imploring him to stop this spiral of violence and death, also for the sake of his own people.”

“I am saddened by the rivers of blood and tears spilled in these months,” he declared. “I am saddened by the thousands of victims, especially children, and the destruction which has left many people and families homeless and threaten vast territories with cold and hunger.”

“Certain actions can never be justified, never!” the pope said, noting how disturbing it is that the world is “learning the geography of Ukraine” through names of areas that “have become places of indescribable suffering and fear.”

“And what about the fact that humanity is once again faced with the atomic threat? It is absurd,” Francis said.

In dedicating his entire message to the conflict in Ukraine, the pope said he was grieved by “the immense suffering of the Ukrainian people as a result of the aggression they have suffered.”

“What is to happen next? How much blood must still flow for us to realize that war is never a solution, only destruction?” he asked.

Along with his appeal to Putin, Francis also urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy “to be open to serious proposals for peace” and likewise asked “all the protagonists of international life and the political leaders of nations to do everything possible to bring an end to the war, without allowing themselves to be drawn into dangerous escalations.”

“Let there be a halt to arms, and let us seek the conditions for negotiations that will lead to solutions that are not imposed by force, but consensual, just and stable,” he said, “based on respect for the sacrosanct value of human life, as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country.”

“Please let the younger generations breathe the salutary air of peace, not the polluted air of war, which is madness!” he said.

After seven months of hostilities, “let us use all diplomatic means, even those that may not have been used so far, to bring an end to this terrible tragedy. War in itself is an error and a horror!” he exhorted.