On Easter, Pope calls for end to war, condemns waste exacerbating hunger

VATICAN CITY Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:35am EDT

1 of 19. Pope Francis waves as he arrives to deliver the Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) benediction at the end of the Easter Mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican April 20, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Tony Gentile

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis, in his Easter address before a huge crowd, on Sunday denounced the "immense wastefulness" in the world while many go hungry and called for an end to conflicts in Syria, Ukraine and Africa.

"We ask you, Lord Jesus, to put an end to all war and every conflict, whether great or small, ancient or recent," he said in his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message.

Francis, marking the second Easter season of his pontificate, celebrated a Mass to an overflowing crowd of at least 150,000 in St. Peter's Square and beyond.

The crowd stretched back along all of Via della Conciliazione, the boulevard between the Vatican and the Tiber River.

Speaking under a sunny sky after a midnight rainstorm soaked the tens of thousands of flowers that bedecked the square, Francis weaved his message around the suffering of people across the globe.

He prayed to God to "help us to overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible".

Since his election as the first non-European pope in 1,300 years, Francis had made defense of the poor a hallmark of his papacy, often criticizing developed nations and the excesses of capitalism and consumerism.

The 77-year-old pope, wearing white vestments for the service, prayed for the protection of those members of society who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and abandonment - women, children, the elderly and immigrants.

Easter is the most important day on the liturgical calendar because it commemorates the day Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion and the Church sees it as a symbol of hope, peace and reconciliation among peoples and nations.

BOLD PEACE NEGOTIATIONS

The pope called on the international community to "boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue" in Syria, where more than 150,000 people have been killed in the civil war, a third of them civilians. Millions have fled the country.

"We pray in a particular way for Syria, that all those suffering the effects of the conflict can receive needed humanitarian aid and that neither side will again use deadly force, especially against the defenseless civil population," he said.

Francis asked God to "enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence and, in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country's future".

He also asked for an end to violence in Iraq, Venezuela, South Sudan and the Central Africa Republic.

Francis appealed for more medical attention for the victims of the deadly Ebola epidemic in Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and care for those suffering from many other diseases spread through neglect and dire poverty.

He called for a "halt to the brutal terrorist attacks" in f Nigeria, an apparent reference to Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which earlier this month abducted some 130 girls from a school in the north of the country.

The Easter Sunday services were the culmination of four hectic days of Holy Week activities for the pontiff.

Next Sunday, he will canonize Pope John Paul II, who reigned from 1978 to 2005, and Pope John XXIII, who was pontiff from 1958 to 1963 and called the Second Vatican Council, a landmark meeting that modernized the Church.

Hundreds of thousands of people are due to come to Rome for the canonizations, the first time two popes are be made saints simultaneously and the first canonizations of a pope since 1954.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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Comments (6)
RD137 wrote:
The Pope should pray to Jesus to end the US Federal Reserve Banking/Pozi System….all the poverty and wars will end then.

Apr 20, 2014 11:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
breezinthru wrote:
Why does this get any press at all?

Popes have been calling for these things for at least for the past 100 years.

There has been plenty of war over the past 100 years and there will be more to come. People will continue to be hungry, even in America.

The only thing as meaningless as what the Pope calls for on Easter is what he calls for on Christmas…

or any other day of the year for that matter.

Apr 20, 2014 1:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
delta5297 wrote:
Calling for an “end to war” is not only ridiculously easy to do, it’s irresponsible. Should the Allies of World War II have halted their drive on Berlin simply for the sake of peace while the Nazis gassed the Jews? Should the Syrian rebels simply throw in the towel and let the regime take back control of the entire country and submit themselves to Assad’s “justice”? Or should Ukrainians surrender their country to Russia because Putin is obviously telling the truth about fascists and Western provocateurs threatening ethnic Russians in Ukraine?

Apr 20, 2014 1:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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