Pope Francis gives his Ubi et Orbi blessingPope Francis, in his Easter Sunday address from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica to the thousands of pilgrims in St Peter’s and beyond, made a strong plea for peace. He prayed for peace 

  • in Syria, and between the Israelis and Palestinians.
  • in Asia,  above all on the Korean peninsula that disagreements may be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow.* 
  • in Mali and in Democratic Republic of the Congo

He called to for the defence of nature which is seen as an early hallmark of his pontificate. He condemned the “iniquitous exploitation of natural resources” and urged everyone to be “guardians” of creation.

He moved from the Care of the Earth to the Care of the Human spirit when he said that the message of Easter is that faith which can help people transform their lives by letting “those desert places in our hearts bloom”.

“How many deserts, even today, do human beings need to cross! Above all, the desert within, when we have no love for God or neighbour, when we fail to realise that we are guardians of all that the creator has given us and continues to give us,” he said.

“Peace in the whole world, still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this 21st century.

“Peace to the whole world, torn apart by violence linked to drug trafficking and by the iniquitous exploitation of natural resources! Peace to this our Earth! May the risen Jesus bring comfort to the victims of natural disasters and make us responsible guardians of creation.”

Easter Sunday was the culmination of four hectic days of activity for the new pope and he drew much media attention on  Holy Thursday when two young women in a juvenile prison were included among the twelve people whose feet he washed and kissed during a traditional ceremony that had previously been open only to men. And he is still living in the same Vatican guesthouse where he stayed during the conclave instead of moving into the regal papal apartments.

He has also been inviting ordinary people to his morning Mass at the guesthouse, including Vatican street sweepers and gardeners.

Lord, Risen and with us, watch over your servant, Francis

*Korea Peninsula where tensions have been high since the North’s new young leader Kim Jong-un ordered a third nuclear weapons test in February, breaching UN sanctions and ignoring warnings from North Korea’s sole major ally, China, not to do so.

 

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