On Easter, Pope calls for end to war, con­demns waste, hunger

Daily Trust - - WORLD -

Pope Fran­cis, in his Easter ad­dress be­fore a huge crowd, on Sun­day de­nounced the “im­mense waste­ful­ness” in the world while many go hun­gry and called for an end to con­flicts in Syria, Ukraine and Africa.

“We ask you, Lord Je­sus, to put an end to all war and ev­ery con­flict, whether great or small, an­cient or re­cent,” he said in his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) mes­sage.

Fran­cis, mark­ing the sec­ond Easter sea­son of his pon­tif­i­cate, cel­e­brated a Mass to an over­flow­ing crowd of at least 150,000 in St. Peter’s Square and be­yond.

The crowd stretched back along all of Via della Con­cil­i­azione, the boule­vard be­tween the Vat­i­can and the Tiber River.

Speak­ing un­der a sunny sky af­ter a mid­night rain­storm soaked the tens of thou­sands of flow­ers that be­decked the square, Fran­cis weaved his mes­sage around the suf­fer­ing of people across the globe.

He prayed to God to “help us to over­come the scourge of hunger, ag­gra­vated by con­flicts and by the im­mense waste­ful­ness for which we are of­ten re­spon­si­ble”.

Since his elec­tion as the first non-Euro­pean pope in 1,300 years, Fran­cis had made de­fense of the poor a hall­mark of his pa­pacy, of­ten crit­i­ciz­ing de­vel­oped na­tions and the ex­cesses of cap­i­tal­ism and con­sumerism.

The 77-year-old pope, wear­ing white vest­ments for the ser­vice, prayed for the pro­tec­tion of those mem­bers of so­ci­ety who are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble to ex­ploita­tion, abuse and aban­don­ment - women, chil­dren, the el­derly and im­mi­grants.

The pope called on the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to “boldly ne­go­ti­ate the peace long awaited and long over­due” in Syria, where more than 150,000 people have been killed in the civil war, a third of them civil­ians. Mil­lions have fled the coun­try.

“We pray in a par­tic­u­lar way for Syria, that all those suf­fer­ing the ef­fects of the con­flict can re­ceive needed hu­man­i­tar­ian aid and that nei­ther side will again use deadly force, es­pe­cially against the de­fense­less civil pop­u­la­tion,” he said.

Fran­cis asked God to “en­lighten and in­spire the ini­tia­tives that pro­mote peace in Ukraine so that all those in­volved, with the sup­port of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, will make ev­ery ef­fort to pre­vent vi­o­lence and, in a spirit of unity and di­a­logue, chart a path for the coun­try’s fu­ture”.

He also asked for an end to vi­o­lence in Iraq, Venezuela, South Sudan and the Cen­tral Africa Repub­lic.

Fran­cis ap­pealed for more med­i­cal at­ten­tion for the vic­tims of the deadly Ebola epi­demic in Guinea Con­akry, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and care for those suf­fer­ing from many other dis­eases spread through ne­glect and dire poverty.

He called for a “halt to the bru­tal ter­ror­ist at­tacks” in Nigeria, an ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to Nige­rian Is­lamist mil­i­tant group Boko Haram, which ear­lier this month ab­ducted some 130 girls from a school in the north of the coun­try.

Next Sun­day, he will can­on­ize Pope John Paul II, who reigned from 1978 to 2005, and Pope John XXIII, who was pon­tiff from 1958 to 1963 and called the Sec­ond Vat­i­can Coun­cil, a land­mark meet­ing that mod­ern­ized the Church.

Pope Fran­cis waves as he ar­rives to deliver the Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) bene­dic­tion at the end of the Easter Mass in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vat­i­can yes­ter­day.

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