(Vatican City) Ukraine, Middle East, international terrorism: Pope Francis on Sunday condemned the many “stumbling blocks” to world peace during his traditional urbi et orbi message for Easter.
In front of some 100,000 worshipers gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, the Argentinian Jesuit expressed his “deep concern” because of the attacks in recent days “in the Middle East, which he said threaten the” dialogue “between Israelis and Palestinians,” amid rising violence in the region.
As in 2022, his message gave a special place to the war in Ukraine. “Comfort the wounded and those who have lost loved ones to war and ensure that prisoners can return safely to their families,” he said, calling on the international community to “end this war and to all the conflicts that bloody the world”.
Citing twenty countries, the leader of the 1.3 billion Catholics notably mentioned “Lebanon which is still in search of stability and unity”, Tunisia and its “social and economic problems”, the “serious socio-political crisis and humanitarian” in Haiti and the “victims of international terrorism” in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mozambique and Nigeria.
He also had a thought for the victims of the earthquake that occurred in February in Turkey and Syria, which killed more than 56,000 people and damage estimated at more than 100 billion euros.
A few minutes earlier, François, whose health appears increasingly fragile and who moves in a wheelchair due to knee pain, had presided over Easter mass under a bright sun before enjoying a long walkabout. aboard his “Papamobile” through the aisles of St. Peter’s Square, blessing the faithful in a warm atmosphere.
On Saturday evening, the 86-year-old pope, hospitalized last week for bronchitis, presided over the Easter Vigil Mass for two and a half hours in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, in the presence of around 8,000 people.
Friday, he had canceled due to the cold his participation in the traditional “Way of the Cross” organized at the Colosseum in Rome, but he had presided over the office of the Passion as planned.
Holy Week and Easter, which commemorate the death and resurrection of Christ, are the main highlight of the year in the Catholic calendar.