Pope Francis called Sunday for an end to “absurd violence” in hotspots around the world while praising the breakthrough reached last week between world powers and Iran.
In his traditional Easter message, the 78-year-old pontiff prayed that the framework accord reached Thursday between Iran and six major world powers would be “a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world.”
Tens of thousands of pilgrims huddled under umbrellas in a rain-soaked St Peter’s Square to hear the pope deliver his “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and World) blessing, broadcast live to dozens of countries.
Speaking from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica, Francis urged prayers for those killed in armed conflict, saying: “I think in particular of the young people who were killed last Thursday at Garissa University College in Kenya,” referring to the attack by Somali Shebab extremists that left 148 people dead.
In his third Easter address since his election as pope in 2013, the head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics prayed “for peace, above all, for Syria and Iraq, that the roar of arms may cease”.
He called on the international community to “not stand by before the immense humanitarian tragedy unfolding in these countries and the drama of the numerous refugees” created by the two conflicts. The Argentine pope also pleaded for “absurd bloodshed and all barbarous acts of violence” in Libya to be halted, and voiced his “desire for peace, for the good of the entire people” in war-battered Yemen and Ukraine.