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In his Easter Sunday address to the world, Pope Francis pulled no punches as he implicitly called out Russia for dragging Ukraine into a “cruel and senseless” conflict. He urged world leaders to help bring peace to Ukraine.
His twice annual Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world in Latin) speech was nearly entirely about the conflict in Ukraine.
"Our eyes, too, are incredulous on this Easter of war. We have seen all too much blood, all too much violence. Our hearts, too, have been filled with fear and anguish, as so many of our brothers and sisters have had to lock themselves away in order to be safe from bombing," he said.
Russia has called their invasion of Ukraine that began on 24 February as a “special military operation” that Francis has rejected outright, using the word “war”.
It was the first Easter the 85-year-old addressed the 50,000 people in St. Peter’s Square after a High Mass since 2019, due to Covid-19 restrictions.
He also thanked the neighbouring countries for taking in the Ukrainian refugees.
He gave the Easter mass and then went out briefly in his popemobile in and around the Vatican. He has been suffering from leg pain. On the balcony, he spoke sitting down, only standing for the opening and final blessing.
Sharp words during Easter vigil services, too
On Saturday night he attended an Easter vigil service, but not say Mass so he seemingly could rest up for Easter Sunday, the most important day in the Christian liturgical calendar.
"Please, let us not get used to war!" Francis said, looking down on the square.
"I hold in my heart all 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," he said.
He did not forget, however, to call for reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as the citizens of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Myanmar. He called for peace in Libya and in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which he will visit in July.