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Pope Francis makes emotional appeal for global peace in Easter message

Thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican when Pope Francis led the Easter Mass on March 27, 2016. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Pope Francis gestures during the delivery of the Urbi et Orbi benediction at the end of the Easter Mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican March 27, 2016. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Pope Francis gestures during the delivery of the Urbi et Orbi benediction at the end of the Easter Mass in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 27, 2016. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis made an emotional appeal for global peace during his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) Easter blessing, urging people to remember victims of the “blind and brutal violence” in recent terrorist attacks, such as last week’s Brussels bombings that killed dozens of people.

Throughout, he emphasized a key theme of his pontificate: mercy.

Speaking from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica amid tight security, the pope said mercy and “weapons of love” were the only answer to “hatred and death” as he reflected on the world’s violent hotspots.

“The Lord Jesus by his resurrection triumphed over evil and sin,” Francis said. “May he draw us closer on this Easter feast to the victims of terrorism, that blind and brutal form of violence which continues to shed innocent blood in different parts of the world, as in recent attacks in Belgium, Turkey, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and the Ivory Coast.”

The pope said daily news reports were full of brutal domestic crimes and large-scale armed conflicts causing “indescribable suffering” to entire countries.

“Before the spiritual and moral abysses of mankind, before the chasms that open up in hearts and provoke hatred and death, only an infinite mercy can bring us salvation,” the pope said.

A general view is seen of Pope Francis leading the Easter mass in St. Peter's square at the Vatican March 27, 2016. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican when Pope Francis led the Easter Mass on March 27, 2016. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

The pontiff singled out the conflict in Syria for special attention, and expressed hope that the latest round of negotiations could bring an end to the war’s “destruction, death, contempt for humanitarian law and breakdown of civil coexistence.”

“We trust the talks now underway, that goodwill and the co-operation of all will bring peace,” Francis said.

The pontiff urged people in the Mediterranean and the Middle East to “overcome their hardened hearts” and to promote peace in Iraq, Yemen and Libya as well as a solution to the war in Ukraine.

The pope called for lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land, urging patience and openness through “direct and sincere negotiations.”


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Earlier on Sunday (March 27), the pope expressed his sympathy for the victims of Friday’s suicide attack in Iraq that killed dozens of people at a football stadium south of the capital, Baghdad.

He also met former Belgian King Albert II and his wife, Paola. Several pilgrims carried Belgian flags Sunday.

In his Easter address the pope called for compassion for the poor and marginalized and appealed to humanity not to forget refugees fleeing war, hunger and poverty.

“All too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way with death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance,” he said. He also remembered those affected by climate change and what he called greedy exploitation of the planet as he said droughts and floods often led to food crises in different parts of the world.

Before delivering his Urbi et Orbi message, the pope celebrated Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square under brilliant skies. Thousands of people in the square erupted in loud cheers and screams when Francis blessed them as he was driven around in his popemobile.

Italian media reports said 2,000 police officers and other security officials were patrolling the area around the Vatican and tourist sites in Rome.

(Josephine McKenna is a Rome-based correspondent)

About the author

Josephine McKenna

Josephine McKenna has more than 30 years' experience in print, broadcast and interactive media. Based in Rome since 2007, she covered the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and election of Pope Francis and canonizations of their predecessors. Now she covers all things Vatican for RNS.

24 Comments

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  • The Pope needs to know that his own dogma is responsible for unrest in the world. Pain and suffering are promoted by archaic church opinion.

  • Pain and suffering are promoted by disrespecting other people’s personal boundaries, including their equally rightful bodies, beliefs, bedrooms, and business.

    Pain and suffering are promoted by holding others to our own beliefs, and subjecting others to our own faiths’ demands.

    Pain and suffering are promoted by choosing hubris over humility, intrusion over invitation, and conquest over coexistence.

    Pain and suffering are promoted by believing that we deserve more say-so over their fully equal lives than they do over our merely equal ones.

    Pain and suffering are promoted by conditional application of the Golden Rule.

  • Peace comes through respecting other people’s personal boundaries, including their equally rightful bodies, beliefs, bedrooms, and business.

    Peace comes through holding only ourselves to our own beliefs, and subjecting only ourselves to our own faiths’ demands.

    Peace comes through choosing humility over hubris, invitation over intrusion, and coexistence over conquest.

    Peace comes through realizing that we don’t deserve more say-so over their fully equal lives than they do over our merely equal ones.

    Peace comes through unconditional application of the Golden Rule.

    I have no problem with belief systems. I have a problem only with people who presume to trump other people and their personal, private, and proprietary spiritual/existential beliefs.

    Most people are really pretty nice and respectful people. I only wish the behaviors of the few busybullies who disrespect others’ beliefs were consistently condemned by their respective respectful peers.

  • Feel free to contact him and let him know:

    The Pope does not have a personal, public e-mail address or fax number.

    The e-mail address is: [email protected][3]
    The fax number is: +390669885373
    Note that neither form of contact goes directly to the Pope, but correspondence you have for the Pope will get to him eventually when sent through either of these means.

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