04 April 2021, The Tablet

Pope calls for end to wars in Easter message 

Pope calls for end to wars in Easter message 

Pope Francis uses incense as he celebrates Easter Mass in St Peter's Basilica.
CNS photo/Paolo Galosi, pool

Pope Francis used his Easter Sunday message to call on world leaders to end the “scandal” of armed conflicts and increased military spending and focus on fairer vaccine distribution. 

“The Easter message does not offer us a mirage or reveal a magic formula. It does not point to an escape from the difficult situation,” the Pope said during his traditional Urbi et Orbi (to the city and to the world) message. 

“The pandemic is still spreading, while the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for the poor. Nonetheless – and this is scandalous – armed conflicts have not ended and military arsenals are being strengthened. That is today’s scandal.”

Francis, who has often called for disarmament and ruled that the possession of nuclear weapons is immoral, said: “There are still too many wars and too much violence in the world!” He prayed that the Lord will inspire “world leaders to curb the race for new weaponry” and to “help us to overcome the mindset of war”. 

Covid-19 means that this is the second year in a row when Holy Week papal services have taken place with small gatherings in St Peter’s Basilica, instead of by crowds in the church or in the square outside.

The Pope said the risen Christ offers hope to those who “suffer from the pandemic”, praised doctors and nurses, while expressing his solidarity with young people unable to attend school or see friends. He then repeated his call for fairer distribution of vaccines to battle the Coronavirus pandemic. 

“I urge the entire international community, in a spirit of global responsibility, to commit to overcoming delays in the distribution of vaccines and to facilitate their distribution, especially in the poorest countries.” he said.  

As is customary in Urbi et Orbi messages, the Pope mentioned countries across the world suffering due to conflicts or other difficulties, asking that the “risen Jesus” can be source of hope in their troubles. 

He praised the young people of Myanmar for “supporting democracy and making their voices heard peacefully” following the deaths of more than 550 who have protested the military coup in the country. Francis urged the people of Haiti, where violence and political instability has raised fears of a new dictatorship “not to be overwhelmed by difficulties”.

The Pope urged “prisoners of conflicts” in eastern Ukraine and in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory in Azerbaijan, to be released, and for peace in the conflict-torn Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, the Sahel region and Nigeria, and the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique. 

Francis also spoke about Syria and Yemen. 

“May Christ our peace finally bring an end to the clash of arms in beloved and war-torn Syria, where millions of people are presently living in inhumane conditions; in Yemen, whose situation has met with a deafening and scandalous silence; and in Libya, where at last there is hope that a decade of bloody strife and clashes may come to an end,” he said. 

In Lebanon, where leaders are under scrutiny due to allegations of corruption, Francis urged the country become “a land of encounter, coexistence and pluralism” and to experience consolation during these “times of difficulty and uncertainty”. Francis has indicated he would like to visit Lebanon soon

The Pope also recalled his recent trip to Iraq, saying he hoped it “may continue along the path of peace and thus fulfil God’s dream for a human family hospitable and welcoming to all his children”.

Staying in the Middle East, Francis appealed for “Israelis and Palestinians” to find a stable two-state solution that will allow both “states to dwell side by side in peace and prosperity.” 

Finally, the Pope reminded people that today, 4 April, marks International Awareness Day against landmines which he called “insidious and horrible devices that kill or maim many innocent people each year”. 

He said: “How much better our world would be without these instruments of death!” 



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