Pope Francis calls for peace in Gaza in his Easter message


Pope Francis he strongly called for an end to Gaza and the “immediate” release of Israeli hostages during his Easter message “to the city and the world” on Sunday.

The statement came after Francis led the morning Mass and toured the venue, greeting thousands of people the Vatican estimates will be in attendance.

Francis appeared “in good health,” The Associated Press reported, after battling respiratory problems throughout the winter. It was an encouraging sign after Francis to jump It’s Good Friday and he skipped Palm Sunday Mass last week, leaving open the question of whether he will be able to fully participate in the Easter celebrations.

He is in the central porch of the church of St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis delivered the annual address, expressing his compassion for people suffering around the world and calling for a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine.

“My thoughts go out to the victims of many conflicts around the world, starting with Israel and Palestine, and Ukraine.” May the resurrected Christ open the way to peace for the war-torn people of those regions. In order to respect the principles of international law, I express my hope for the exchange of all prisoners between Russia and Ukraine, all for the sake of all!

Francis asked for help to be “confirmed in Gaza,” for the immediate “release” of all the Israeli prisoners taken on Oct. 7, and an “immediate ceasefire” in the Gaza Strip.

“Let’s not allow the violence that is happening today to continue to have a negative impact on people, reaching the end of its endurance, and especially on children. Children are suffering a lot in the eyes of the children: the children of the warring countries have forgotten to smile!” he added. “With those eyes, they ask us: Why? Why all this death? Why all this destruction? War is always futile; War is always victorious!”

“We must not allow the winds of war to blow in Europe and the Mediterranean. Let’s not allow ideas of weapons and recycling weapons. Peace is not made with hands, but with open hands and open hearts.

Francis said, “we must not forget Syria,” noting the great suffering of the “long and destructive war.” He also lamented the suffering of the Haitian and Rohingya people.

Francis called on “all those in political positions to fight the problem of human trafficking, by working hard to dismantle the networks of abuse and bring freedom to the victims.”

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