Pope Francis delivered the traditional Easter Sunday Mass sermon in Rome on Sunday with a call for an end to the “horror and death” in Syria and prayed for Jesus to help world leaders end the arms trade.
“In the complex and often dramatic situations of today’s world, may the Risen Lord guide the steps of all those who work for justice and peace,” he told a crowd of around 60,000 people gathered in a flower-filled St. Peter’s Square.
“May he grant the leaders of nations the courage they need to prevent the spread of conflicts and to put a halt to the arms trade.”
The message was delivered from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica amid tight security with people trying to enter the square having to pass through several checkpoints.
Addressing the civil war in Syria, the Pope said a prayer for humanitarian workers there.
“Especially in these days, may he sustain the efforts of all those actively engaged in bringing comfort and relief to the civil population in Syria, prey to a war that continues to sow horror and death. And yesterday, the latest despicable attack on refugees which caused a number of deaths and injuries,” he said.
More than a hundred people, including many children, were killed Saturday by a suicide bomb attack on a convoy of refugees leaving besieged villages as part of a demographic exchange.
The Argentine pontiff, whose own father was an immigrant from southern Italy, reiterated the Catholic Church’s support for refugees.
“Everywhere he (Jesus) helps these forced migrants to encounter brothers and sisters, with whom they can share bread and hope on their journey,” he told the crowd of faithful.
Jesus was also beside victims of slavery and people-trafficking and “children and adolescents deprived of their carefree innocence and exploited, and those deeply hurt by acts of violence that take place within the walls of their own home,” Pope Francis said.
The Pope also prayed for peace in the wider Middle East, for victims of famine in Africa and for social peace in his native Latin America.
“May it be possible for bridges of dialogue to be built, by continuing to fight the scourge of corruption and to seek viable and peaceful solutions to disputes, for progress and the strengthening of democratic institutions in complete respect for the rule of law,” he said.
Last Wednesday Pope Francis paid a visit to his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who is 90 today (Sunday), according to the Vatican Press Office.
Pope Benedict resigned from his papal role in 2013 due to “lack of strength of mind and body” as a result of old age.