On Easter Sunday, Pope Francis said Jesus, the victor over sin, fear and death, called on the world not to surrender to evil and violence. He made an impassioned plea for an end to the war in Ukraine and urged the faithful to appeal for peace and the end to cruelty and senseless destruction.
For the crowds this Easter was a true resurrection after two years of pandemic that brought Holy Week events to a standstill.
Pope Francis made a strong plea for peace in what he called this “Easter of war.” Tens of thousands turned out in a sunny but windy Saint Peter’s Square this year to attend Easter mass, hear the pope’s words and receive his blessing.
In his Urbi et Orbi [to the city and the world] Easter message the pope called for peace to return in war-torn Ukraine, so sorely tried by the violence and destruction of the cruel and senseless war into which it was dragged. Francis called on the world not to get used to war and said “may a new dawn of hope soon appear."
Let there be a decision for peace, Francis said, may there be an end to the flexing of muscles while people are suffering. He urged everyone to commit tocall for peace from balconies and streets and expressed the hope that the leaders of nations will hear the people’s plea for peace.
The pope’s thoughts went to the many Ukrainian victims, the millions of refugees and internally displaced persons, the divided families, the elderly left to themselves, the lives broken and the cities razed to the ground. Francis added that amid the pain of war, there are also encouraging signs, many acts of charity as families and communities open their doors to welcome migrants and refugees throughout Europe.
On Easter Sunday believers mark the most joyful day in the Christian calendar which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus three days after his death on the cross.
Today, more than ever, the pope said, we hear echoing the Easter proclamation so dear to the Christian East: “Christ is risen! He is truly risen!” Today, more than ever, he added, we need him, at the end of a Lent that has seemed endless.
Francis said the conflict in Europe should also make the world more concerned about other situations of conflict, suffering and sorrow, situations in many areas of the world that cannot be overlooked or forgotten. He mentioned the Middle East, racked by years of conflict and division and specifically Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan and Myanmar. The pope also urged peace for the whole of the African continent and for assistance to be given to people suffering from social conditions in Latin America.
Francis ended his Easter message with powerful words: “Peace is possible, peace is a duty, peace is everyone’s prime responsibility.”