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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Wednesday April 17, 2024
Wednesday April 17, 2024

Pope Francis advocates for ceasefires in Gaza and Ukraine during Easter

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Calls for humanitarian aid and prisoner exchanges mark Easter message

In a poignant Easter message delivered at the Vatican, Pope Francis called for immediate ceasefires in the Gaza Strip and Ukraine, emphasizing the necessity of peace and humanitarian aid in conflict zones. Leading the Easter Mass before thousands, the 87-year-old Pope, whose health has been a topic of concern, made a heartfelt plea for the cessation of hostilities and the release of hostages.

During the mass at St. Peter’s Square, attended by tens of thousands, the Pope stressed the futility of war and the importance of open hearts and outstretched hands over the rearming and use of weapons. His message comes at a critical time, with truce negotiations between Israel and Hamas on the horizon, highlighting the urgent need for humanitarian aid in Gaza and the release of Israeli hostages held since October 7.

The Pope’s Easter address did not shy away from the grim realities of conflict, particularly the toll on children, whose suffering and loss of innocence he lamented. He criticized the absurdity and defeat represented by war, asking rhetorically about the reason behind such death and destruction.

Pope Francis also touched on the prolonged conflict in Ukraine, which began with Russia’s full-scale invasion over two years ago. He advocated for respect for international law and expressed hope for a general exchange of all prisoners between Russia and Ukraine, emphasizing the ongoing humanitarian impact of the conflict.

The Gaza conflict, triggered by a significant attack by Hamas in southern Israel, has resulted in a high casualty rate, with thousands of Palestinians killed or injured, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. The Pope’s call for peace extends beyond specific conflicts, aiming for a global reevaluation of conflict resolution methods.

Pope Francis, despite recent health challenges, including hospitalization for bronchitis and abdominal surgery, remained engaged in the Easter celebrations, opting for a wheelchair for personal greetings and using the popemobile to wave to the assembled crowd. His participation in the Easter vigil and homily reading, following a rest during the Good Friday service, underscored his commitment to his papal duties and the message of peace.

The Vatican’s statement on the Pope’s health, and his decision to rest as a precautionary measure, reflects the balancing act between his public responsibilities and personal well-being. As Easter Sunday is celebrated worldwide by 1.3 billion Catholics, Pope Francis’s message of peace, compassion, and the need for a ceasefire resonates globally, emphasizing the role of faith and leadership in addressing contemporary challenges

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