April 1 (UPI) — Pope Francis urged thousands of faithful during his Easter Sunday message to “implore fruits of peace,” including a “swift” end to the “carnage” in Syria.
Pilgrims from around the world gathered in St. Peter’s Square to hear him speak from the balcony of the basilica for his “Urbi et Orbi,” which in English is “to the city and the world.” Earlier he conducted Easter Mass inside St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
Francis noted the power of Christianity’s core belief that Jesus rose from the dead after crucifixion.
The pontiff said the resurrection offers hope in a world “marked by so many acts of injustice and violence.”
“Today we implore fruits of peace upon the entire world, beginning with the beloved and long suffering land of Syria whose people are worn down by an apparently endless war,” the pope said. “This Easter may the light of the risen Christ illuminate the consciences of all political and military leaders, so that a swift end may be brought to the carnage in course; that humanitarian law may be respected; and that provisions be made to facilitate access to the aid so urgently needed.”
Francis has repeatedly condemned the Syrian conflict since he became pope five years ago.
He also spoke broadly of peace in the region.
“We beseech fruits of reconciliation for the Holy Land, also experiencing in these days the wounds of ongoing conflict that do not spare the defenseless, for Yemen and for the entire Middle East, so that dialogue and mutual respect may prevail over division and violence,” he said.
Regarding relations between North and South Korea he said: “We implore fruits of dialogue … that the discussions under way may advance harmony and peace within the region.”
On Ukraine he said: “We also beseech fruits of peace that the steps taken to favor harmony may be consolidated, and facilitated by the humanitarian initiatives needed by its people.”
Regarding Venezuela, he said: “May that nation, by the power of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, find a just, peaceful and humane way to surmount quickly the political and humanitarian crises that grip it.”
And in Africa he noted: “We invoke on this day fruits of hope for those who yearn for a more dignified life .. in all those areas .. deeply affected by hunger, endemic conflicts and terrorism.”
Francis began the day by posting on Twitter: “Our faith is born on Easter morning: Jesus is alive! The experience is at the heart of the Christian message.”
On Saturday night, he celebrated an Easter Vigil service at St. Peter’s. He baptized eight adults into the Roman Catholic faith, including a Nigerian migrant, John Ogah, who has been called a hero in Italy for foiling a robbery.
“To celebrate Easter is to believe once more that God constantly breaks into our personal histories, challenging our ‘conventions,’ those fixed ways of thinking and acting that end up paralyzing us,” he said during the service. “To celebrate Easter is to allow Jesus to triumph over the craven fear that so often assails us and tries to bury every kind of hope.”