Pope Francis, in his traditional speech on Easter Sunday, condemned as “ scandalous ” how armed conflict continues to rage, even as the coronavirus pandemic has caused severe social and economic suffering and increased the ranks of the poor.
Francis moderate his’ Urbi et Orbi ″ address (Latin for ‘To the city and the world’) wishes of joy on the Christian holiday, along with stories of the pain of the many armed conflicts on Earth in Africa, the Middle East , Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe.
By describing vaccines as an “essential tool” in the pandemic struggle, Francis called for a “spirit of global responsibility” as he encouraged countries to overcome “delays in vaccine distribution” and ensure that the shots reach the poorest countries.
“Everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us, needs help and has the right to access the necessary care,” said the Pope.
At the outset of his speech, he expressed outrage and condemned the fact that there has been no shortage of war and conflict during the world’s worst health crisis in a century.
“The pandemic is still spreading, while the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for the poor. Nevertheless – and this is outrageous – armed conflicts have not ended and military arsenals are being reinforced,” Francis said angrily. is today’s scandal. “
The Pope prayed that the government would ensure that those in need of aid have a “decent standard of living. Unfortunately, the pandemic has dramatically increased the number of the poor and the despair of thousands.”
He deplored the plight of people affected by war and other conflicts, citing Haiti, one of the world’s poorest countries, ravaged by violent protests and political strife, including an alleged coup d’état. Francis urged Haitians “not to be overwhelmed by difficulties, but to look to the future with confidence and hope.”
Francis offered encouragement to young people in Myanmar who are “committed to supporting democracy and making their voices heard peacefully”. Protesters in Myanmar took to the streets with painted eggs in reference to Easter. Myanmar’s military has violently tried to destroy opponents of a February 1 coup, ousting a democratically elected government.
Francis thanked Lebanon and Jordan for taking refugees from the war in Syria and prayed that peace would finally come to “millions live in inhumane conditions”. He also prayed for an end to the conflicts in Yemen and Libya.
Referring to the suffering of people in Africa, he condemned “internal violence and international terrorism, especially in the Sahel and Nigeria”. Other troubled areas he mentioned included the Ethiopian province of Tigray and the province of Cabo Delgado in Mozambique, which has been bloodied by days of fighting with rebels for control of a city.
Francis prayed for the safe return home of prisoners from protracted conflicts in Europe, Eastern Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabkh.
Earlier in the day, Francis celebrated Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, where the number of believers in the pews was barely 200 in accordance with pandemic protocols, compared to the usual thousands.
Normally, Francis delivered his Easter speech on world affairs from the basilica’s central balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square. Instead, he read it for the second consecutive Easter to discourage the crowd from gathering.
“Dear brothers and sisters, again this year, many Christians in various places have celebrated Easter under strict restrictions and sometimes without the opportunity to attend liturgical celebrations,” said Francis before offering a special apostolic blessing to believers around the world.
“We pray that these restrictions, as well as all restrictions on freedom of worship and religion worldwide, may be lifted and that everyone may freely pray and praise God,” said the Pope.