The Pope makes an Easter Sunday appeal for peace in Ukraine, invoking the threat of nuclear war.
Pope Francis delivered an agonising Easter Sunday call for peace amid the “senseless” war in Ukraine and other violent conflicts across the globe, citing the “troubling” prospect of nuclear warfare, on what is meant to be Christianity‘s most joyous day.
“May there be peace for war-torn Ukraine, which has been so severely tested by the bloodshed and devastation of this terrible and senseless conflict into which it has been forced,” Francis said from St. Peter’s Square’s central balcony.
For the first time since the epidemic started in early 2020, the pope had just completed saying Easter Mass in the Piazza, which was filled with believers for the festival. When he named Ukraine, many of the 50,000 people on the plaza and on an adjacent boulevard applauded.
“Dear, please, let us not get used to conflict,” Francis said after decrying “muscle flexing while others suffer.” The pope once again condemned the conflict in Ukraine without blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for the invasion and assault on Ukraine on February 24.
“Let us all pledge to pray for peace from our balconies and in our streets,” Francis added. “May the world’s leaders heed the people’s call for peace.”
Francis highlighted a 1955 proclamation by scientists that said, “‘Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall humanity forsake war?” in an obvious allusion to the prospect of nuclear weapons.
In the address known in Latin as “Urbi et Orbi” — to the city and to the globe — Francis also mentioned previous battles.
“May the European crisis make us more concerned about other conflicts, pain, and sadness, circumstances that impact all too many places of our globe, situations that we cannot neglect and do not wish to forget,” Francis remarked.
The pope mentioned many crises, including those in the Middle East. He urged the peoples of Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq to live in peace and harmony.
He also mentioned Libya and Yemen, saying, “Yemen suffers from a crisis that is neglected by everybody.”
Earlier, the pope hobbled significantly as he made his way to an altar set up in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, due to a knee ligament injury. Against the bright sunlight, the altar was shrouded by a canopy.
Francis shook hands with prelates after Mass, then boarded the white popemobile for a spin around the Piazza, greeting applauding well-wishers among the rank-and-file faithful. He waved and caressed a baby’s head that had been presented to him. His smiles as he greeted the throng were a welcome change for the pope, who has used several of his recent public appearances to voice solemn condemnations of the violence in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, speaking in London, called on Russia to declare a cease-fire and leave Ukraine. Easter, according to the Anglican church’s bishop, is a time for peace, not “blood and iron.”
Welby urged Russia to withdraw from Ukraine and commit to dialogue, noting that Sunday marked the start of Holy Week in the Eastern Orthodox church, which is followed by millions in Russia and Ukraine.
Welby also criticised the British government’s recent intention to return some asylum-seekers to Rwanda as being against God, in an extremely frank political comment.
Warm weather and the lifting of many pandemic regulations — including what had been an obligatory outside mask requirement for much of the epidemic in Italy — have boosted tourism in Rome, with many people flocking to the city for Holy Week and Easter celebrations.
Following the lifting of most health restrictions, Christians and secularists alike returned in huge numbers to Holy Week processions in Spain this week for the first time since the outbreak began.