Russian Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis held talks on Wednesday about the conflict in Ukraine and urged negotiations to continue to reach a "just peace," news agency AFP reported.
"The sides emphasised the crucial importance of continuing negotiations and expressed hope for reaching a just peace as soon as possible," the Patriarch's Moscow office said in a statement.
Kirill is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who blessed and supported Russia's invasion of Ukraine after which he was criticized by the worldwide Orthodox Church and unleashed an internal rebellion that experts say is unprecedented.
"The vocation of every church is to recall basic Gospel principles — Kirill has not only abandoned this but is actually sacralizing this cruel aggression," Marcin Przeciszewski, veteran director of Poland's Catholic Information Agency, told NCR.
On previous occasions, Pope Francis has condemned Russian actions against Ukraine and its people calling it a war that had unleashed rivers of blood.
"Russia's invasion of Ukraine could not be considered just a military operation but a war that had unleashed rivers of blood and tears," the Pope had said.
"Our imagination appears increasingly concentrated on the representation of a final catastrophe that will extinguish us," he had said asking God to stop the aggressor in Ukraine.
The Pope termed the Russian invasion in Ukraine as "unacceptable armed aggression."
"In the name of God I ask you to stop this massacre!” the pope said, adding that Ukrainian cities risked “being reduced to cemeteries."
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is the largest European war since World War II. Since the invasion began, an estimated 3 million people have fled the country, according to the United Nations refugee agency.
Vladimir Putin launched what he called a "special military operation" in the early morning hours of February 24.
(with sources inputs)