Francis calls for humanitarian aid for Gaza Strip in Easter message

Urbi et orbi: Pope warns of "winds of war over Europe"

Vatican City - He spoke with a firm voice: At Easter, Pope Francis once again made an urgent appeal for peace to the world, particularly with regard to Ukraine and the Holy Land. He also expressed his concern about the situation in Europe.

Published  on 31.03.2024 at 13:06  – 

At Easter,Pope Francis called for humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip. Guaranteed access is needed, he said in front of 60,000 people in St Peter's Square. From the balcony of St Peter's Basilica, he also called for the immediate release of the Hamas hostages and a ceasefire. "War is always an absurdity; war is always a defeat," said the Pope in a firm voice.

Francis also commented on the war in Ukraine and called for the exchange of all prisoners between Russia and Ukraine. "All in exchange for all," he said. "Let us not allow the ever-increasing winds of war to blow across Europe and the Mediterranean. Let us not succumb to the logic of weapons and armament."

Stricter entrance controls

After the Easter message, the head of the Church gave the blessing"Urbi et orbi": to the city of Rome and the world. His speech was repeatedly interrupted by applause from pilgrims in the crowded St Peter's Square. Beforehand, the Pope celebrated a mass in the square, which was decorated with many flowers in a fresh breeze. Long queues had formed at the entrances due to comparatively strict admission controls.

Before the Pope made his way to the balcony of St Peter's Basilica, he took a dip in the cheering crowd with the papamobile. In his Easter message, he then recalled many other wars and conflicts in the world, for example in Syria, Lebanon, the Balkans, Haiti and several African countries. He welcomed the talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan and asked God for comfort for the persecuted Rohingya. He also prayed for all people suffering from food insecurity and the consequences of climate change.

Easter is the most important festival of Christianity. Millions of people around the world commemorate the resurrection of Jesus three days after his death on the cross. The "Urbi et orbi" blessing in St Peter's Square on Sunday marked the end of the Holy Week and Easter celebrations in the Vatican. The Pope has made six public appearances since Palm Sunday. He was only absent from the Stations of the Cross procession on Good Friday due to a respiratory illness. (KNA)