Pope Francis in Easter message: Calls for immediate ceasefire and hostage release in Gaza

In his Easter Sunday address, Pope Francis called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the release of all Israeli hostages, highlighting the day of profound significance in the Christian calendar while lamenting the anguish inflicted by conflicts worldwide.

Publication: 31.03.2024 - 16:55
Pope Francis in Easter message: Calls for immediate ceasefire and hostage release in Gaza
Abone Ol google-news

The pontiff led the Mass in a vibrant St. Peter's Square, adorned with flowers, before giving his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing and message from St. Peter's Basilica's central balcony.

Despite recent health challenges that led to reduced public speaking and canceled commitments, including the Good Friday procession at Rome's Colosseum, the 87-year-old Pope participated in the Holy Week ceremonies leading to Easter and seemed in good spirits on Sunday. Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as per Christian belief.

Following the service, Pope Francis, in his open-topped popemobile, greeted the crowd gathered in the square and along the avenue from St. Peter's to the River Tiber, with the Vatican reporting an attendance of around 60,000 people.

A Plea for Peace

Pope Francis, who has consistently voiced his distress over the fatalities and devastation in the Gaza conflict, reiterated his appeal for a ceasefire on Sunday. "I appeal once again for ensured access to humanitarian aid in Gaza, call for the swift release of the hostages taken on October 7, and demand an immediate ceasefire in the Strip," he stated in his Urbi et Orbi address.

Highlighting the harrowing impact of war, particularly on children in conflict zones, the Pope remarked, "The suffering seen in the eyes of children, who have forgotten to smile, prompts us to ask: Why? Why all this death? Why all this destruction? War represents an absurdity and a defeat."

The Pope's Easter message traditionally addresses global issues, and this year he mentioned several hotspots, including Ukraine, Syria, Lebanon, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Haiti, Myanmar, Sudan, the Sahel and Horn of Africa regions, Congo, and Mozambique.

Following his request last year for Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi to mediate in repatriating Ukrainian children from Russia and Russian-controlled territories, Pope Francis advocated for "a general exchange of all prisoners between Russia and Ukraine."

He also denounced human trafficking and prayed for "a path of hope" for those afflicted by violence, hunger, and climate change impacts, and offered consolation for "the victims of terrorism in all its forms."

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