Benedict, 95, in 2013 became the first pope in some 600 years to resign. He has been living in the Vatican since then.
Francis called for a resumption of dialog between Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land, the place of Jesus' birth.
Since the invasion began in February, Francis has been increasingly forceful in his condemnation of Russia's actions.
Israeli artist Nilly Shachor found a formation of branches that look like crucified Jesus, so she took it home and enhanced it.
"Violence kills the future, interrupting the lives of the youngest and weakening the hopes for peace," said Pope Francis.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week that Ukraine was ready for peace, but only on its terms that would restore all occupied territory.
Last month, Pope Francis, for the first time, directly begged Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the "spiral of violence and death" in Ukraine.
Francis condemned male chauvinism, acknowledging there was still too much of it around the world, including in his native Argentina.
The practice dates back to the first century CE, when Pope Nicholas I declared that Catholics were required to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in memory of the death and crucifixion of Christ.
Francis spoke on his first full day in Bahrain as he closed a forum on East-West dialog promoted by the king of the country where, unlike Saudi Arabia, Christians are allowed to practice their faith.