ROME – Pope Francis in his Easter message on Sunday recalled and asked for relief for Christians being persecuted for their faith and called for peace in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and other places around the world that are mired in conflict.
“We ask Jesus, the Victor over death, to lighten the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted for his name, and of all those who suffer injustice as a result of ongoing conflicts and violence,” said the pontiff in his traditional Easter “Urbi et Orbi” message, delivered in Italian from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.
After officiating at the Easter Mass beneath rainy skies in Rome, Francis appeared on the balcony to deliver his yearly message in which he called for peace in the world’s ongoing conflicts.
“We ask for peace and freedom for the many men and women subject to old and new forms of enslavement on the part of criminal individuals and groups. Peace and liberty for the victims of drug dealers, who are often allied with the powers who ought to defend peace and harmony in the human family. And we ask peace for this world subjected to arms dealers,” the pope said.
Francis recalled all those who have lost their lives in the various conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and Europe, and also all those who have been kidnapped or have had to leave their homes and loved ones.
He made special mention “of the young people who were killed last Thursday at Garissa University College in Kenya” by Al Shabab terrorists.
The pontiff also mentioned the nuclear framework agreement signed in Lausanne, Switzerland, between six major powers and Iran, calling for it to be “a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world,” and he also asked for peace to come to “Nigeria, South Sudan and for the various areas of Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”
Francis also repeated his wish for peace in Ukraine, asking for that country to “rediscover peace and hope thanks to the commitment of all interested parties.”