Pope Francis in his Easter message, urged countries for faster distribution of COVID-19 vaccines calling military expenses in the time of pandemic ‘scandalous’.
Easter papal services were attended by small gathering in second year in a row due to coronavirus pandemic. The service took place at a secondary altar of St. Peter’s Basilica instead of in the square outside.
“In the hour of darkness when humanity is grappling with the pandemic and other ills, Christians need to take to heart the Easter message of the angel not to be afraid,” the 84-year-old head of the Catholic Church said in St Peter’s Basilica.
One message of Easter, he said, is that it is always possible to start anew.
“Even from the shambles of human history, God has created something new from the rubble of our hearts,” the Pope said.
Pope Francis asked God to comfort the sick and those who had lost a loved one. About unemployment, he urged the authorities to give families in need a “decent sustenance”.
He praised medical workers, sympathised with young people unable to attend school, and said everyone was called to combat the pandemic.
“I urge the entire international community, in a spirit of global responsibility, to commit to overcoming delays in the distribution of vaccines and to facilitate their distribution, especially in the poorest countries,” he said.
“In these dark months of the pandemic … listen to the Risen Lord as He invites us to begin anew and never lose hope,’” the Pope said.
Francis, who has often called for disarmament and a total ban on the possession of nuclear weapons, said: “There are still too many wars and too much violence in the world! May the Lord, who is our peace, help us to overcome the mindset of war.”
At the beginning of Saturday’s vigil service, the pontiff carried the Easter candle – the light of Christ – into the dark St Peter’s Basilica.
For devout Christians, Easter is the most important feast in the church year.
Francis also called for peace in several conflict areas in Africa, including the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia and the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique. He said the crisis in Yemen has been “met with a deafening and scandalous silence”.
He appealed to Israelis and Palestinians to “rediscover the power of dialogue” to reach a two-state solution where both can live side by side in peace and prosperity.
Francis said he realized many Christians were still persecuted and called for all restrictions on freedom of worship and religion worldwide to be lifted.
Christians commemorate the resurrection of Jesus during the Easter weekend.
Watch Pope Francis’ Urbi et Orbi message