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Pope Francis cites nuclear risk as he launches Easter plea for peace in Ukraine

In what is supposed to be Christianity’s happiest day, Pope Francis issued an anguished plea on Easter Sunday for peace in the ‘senseless’ war in Ukraine and other armed conflicts raging around the world. , and expressed concern about the risk of nuclear war.

“May peace reign for war-torn Ukraine, so hard-hit by the violence and destruction of this cruel and senseless war in which it has been drawn,” Francis said, speaking from the central balcony of the St. Peter’s Square.

The pontiff had just finished celebrating Easter Mass in the square packed with worshipers for the feast for the first time since the pandemic began in early 2020. Applause erupted from much of the crowd , estimated by the Vatican at 100,000 in the square and on a nearby avenue, when he mentioned Ukraine.

“Please, please don’t get used to war,” Francis pleaded, after denouncing “the flexing of muscles while people suffer.” Again, the pontiff did not cite Russian President Vladimir Putin for the decision to launch the invasion and attacks on Ukraine on February 24.

People’s hearts are filled with “fear and anguish, because so many of our brothers and sisters have had to lock themselves in to be safe from the bombings,” the pontiff said.

“Let us all commit to implore peace, from our balconies and in our streets,” Francis said. “May the leaders of the nations hear the call of the people for peace.”

In a clear reference to the threat of nuclear war, Francis quoted a notorious statement from 1955: “Shall we end the human race, or must humanity renounce war? »

He quoted a manifesto written by philosopher Bertrand Russell and physicist Albert Einstein. The text of the manifesto, sounding a grim warning against the consequences of nuclear war, was published a few months after Einstein’s death.

Francis also drew attention to other wars in the speech known by its Latin name “Urbi et Orbi” – to the city and to the world.

“May the conflict in Europe also make us more concerned about other situations of conflict, suffering and grief, situations that affect too many parts of our world, situations that we cannot ignore and do not want forget,” Francis said.

Two days after the clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police in Jerusalem, Francis prayed that “Israelis, Palestinians and all inhabitants of the Holy City, as well as pilgrims, may experience the beauty of peace, life in fraternity and access to the Holy Places” in mutual respect.

He called for peace and reconciliation for the peoples of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Libya.

Francis spoke plaintively of Yemen, “which suffers from a conflict forgotten by all, with continual casualties”. He expressed hope that a recent truce would restore hope to the people of that country.

He also prayed to God to grant “reconciliation for Myanmar, where a dramatic scenario of hatred and violence persists”, and for Afghanistan, which is in the throes of a humanitarian crisis, including food shortages.

François denounced the exploitation of the African continent and the “terrorist attacks – in particular in the Sahel region”, as well as the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia and the violence in the Congo.

Many in Latin America have seen their plight worsen during the coronavirus pandemic, compounding social problems stemming from corruption, violence and drug trafficking, the pontiff said.

But Francis found hope in the “open doors of all those families and communities that welcome migrants and refugees throughout Europe”, referring to the approximately 10 million people who have fled Ukraine or are displaced inside the country by war.

Earlier, the pontiff, who has a knee ligament problem, limped badly as he made his way to an altar set up outside St. Peter’s Basilica. After Easter morning mass, Francis boarded the white popemobile for a whirlwind through the square among the cheering ranks of the crowd.

euronews Gt

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