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Pope Francis has urged for peace around the world, with a spotlight on the violence in ‘war-torn’ Ukraine, for Easter today.

The pontiff led the Catholic Easter Sunday mass at St Peter’s Square at the Vatican, and his skullcap was pictured flying off from a gust of wind in a moment of levity during celebrations before his solemn plea against violence.  

He spoke to crowds of some 50,000 for his twice yearly ‘Urbi et Orbi’ address, saying ‘we have seen all too much blood, all too much violence’.

Francis also called for end to other situations across the Middle East, Africa and Latin America as he hoped the ‘conflict in Europe make us more concerned’ about suffering elsewhere which affects ‘all too many areas of our world’.

Marking an ‘Easter of war’, he urged leaders to hear the people’s plea for peace in Ukraine and implicitly criticised Russia for dragging the country into a ‘cruel and senseless’ conflict. 

Francis said: ‘In this terrible night of suffering and death, may a new dawn of hope soon appear! Let there be a decision for peace.

‘May there be an end to the flexing of muscles while people are suffering. Please, please, let us not get used to war!

‘Let us all commit ourselves to imploring peace, from our balconies and in our streets! Peace! May the leaders of nations hear people’s plea for peace.’

Pope Francis in his sombre plea urged for peace around the world, with a spotlight on the violence in 'war-torn' Ukraine, for Easter today

Pope Francis in his sombre plea urged for peace around the world, with a spotlight on the violence in 'war-torn' Ukraine, for Easter today

Pope Francis in his sombre plea urged for peace around the world, with a spotlight on the violence in ‘war-torn’ Ukraine, for Easter today

Francis tried to catch his skullcap, which flew because of wind, as he arrived to lead the Easter Mass at St Peter's Square at the Vatican

Francis tried to catch his skullcap, which flew because of wind, as he arrived to lead the Easter Mass at St Peter's Square at the Vatican

Francis tried to catch his skullcap, which flew because of wind, as he arrived to lead the Easter Mass at St Peter’s Square at the Vatican

Francis pictured on his Popemobile after celebrating the Easter Mass in St Peter's Square at the Vatican as excited crowds gathered

Francis pictured on his Popemobile after celebrating the Easter Mass in St Peter's Square at the Vatican as excited crowds gathered

Francis pictured on his Popemobile after celebrating the Easter Mass in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican as excited crowds gathered

Marking an 'Easter of war', Francis urged leaders to hear the people's plea for peace in Ukraine and implicitly criticised Russia for dragging the country into a 'cruel and senseless' conflict

Marking an 'Easter of war', Francis urged leaders to hear the people's plea for peace in Ukraine and implicitly criticised Russia for dragging the country into a 'cruel and senseless' conflict

Marking an ‘Easter of war’, Francis urged leaders to hear the people’s plea for peace in Ukraine and implicitly criticised Russia for dragging the country into a ‘cruel and senseless’ conflict

The pope also praised the refugee efforts across Europe, calling the ‘numerous acts of charity’ a ‘blessing for our societies, sometimes degraded by so much selfishness and individualism, and help to make them welcoming to all’.

He added: ‘I hold in my heart all the numerous Ukrainian victims, the millions of refugees and internally displaced persons, the divided families, the elderly left alone, the broken lives and the cities razed to the ground.

‘I have in my eyes the gaze of children who have been orphaned and are fleeing the war.

‘Looking at them, we cannot help but hear their cry of pain, together with that of the many other children who suffer all over the world: those who are dying of hunger or lack of care, those who are victims of abuse and violence and those to whom it has been denied the right to be born.’

Francis addressed crowds of some 50,000 in St Peter's Square for his twice yearly 'Urbi et Orbi' address, saying 'we've all seen too much blood, too much violence'.

Francis addressed crowds of some 50,000 in St Peter's Square for his twice yearly 'Urbi et Orbi' address, saying 'we've all seen too much blood, too much violence'.

Francis addressed crowds of some 50,000 in St Peter’s Square for his twice yearly ‘Urbi et Orbi’ address, saying ‘we’ve all seen too much blood, too much violence’.

Francis greeted people as he rode in his Popemobile through St Peter's Square, after celebrating the Easter Mass at the Vatican today

Francis greeted people as he rode in his Popemobile through St Peter's Square, after celebrating the Easter Mass at the Vatican today

Francis greeted people as he rode in his Popemobile through St Peter’s Square, after celebrating the Easter Mass at the Vatican today

Pope Francis - on his Popemobile - drove through the crowd of faithful at the end of the Catholic Easter Sunday mass which he led at St Peter's Square today

Pope Francis - on his Popemobile - drove through the crowd of faithful at the end of the Catholic Easter Sunday mass which he led at St Peter's Square today

Pope Francis – on his Popemobile – drove through the crowd of faithful at the end of the Catholic Easter Sunday mass which he led at St Peter’s Square today 

The pope also reference to the threat of nuclear warfare, as he quoted from a declaration by scientists in 1955: ‘Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war?’  

Among the conflicts cited by the pope were those in the Middle East. He exhorted peace and reconciliation for the peoples of Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

He also cited Libya as well as Yemen, ‘which suffers from a conflict forgotten by all’.

Earlier, the pontiff, who has a knee ligament problem, limped badly as he made his way to an altar set up in front of St Peter’s Basilica.

As crowds gathered for Easter Mass at the Vatican, in public after two years, Francis waved and patted the head of a baby who was handed to him

As crowds gathered for Easter Mass at the Vatican, in public after two years, Francis waved and patted the head of a baby who was handed to him

As crowds gathered for Easter Mass at the Vatican, in public after two years, Francis waved and patted the head of a baby who was handed to him

Francis greeted the faithful, waving and smiling at crowds as he rode in his Popemobile through St Peter's Square at the Vatican today

Francis greeted the faithful, waving and smiling at crowds as he rode in his Popemobile through St Peter's Square at the Vatican today

Francis greeted the faithful, waving and smiling at crowds as he rode in his Popemobile through St Peter’s Square at the Vatican today

Francis said, in his sombre address: 'In this terrible night of suffering and death let a new dawn appear. Let there be a decision for peace'

Francis said, in his sombre address: 'In this terrible night of suffering and death let a new dawn appear. Let there be a decision for peace'

Francis said, in his sombre address: ‘In this terrible night of suffering and death let a new dawn appear. Let there be a decision for peace’

Right after the end of Mass, Francis shook hands with prelates, then got aboard the white Popemobile to drive through the square and greet cheering well-wishers among the rank-and-file faithful.

He waved and patted the head of a baby who was handed to him. The pontiff’s smiles while greeting the crowd were a rare departure of late for the pope, who has used many of his appearances in recent weeks to issue sombre denunciations of the war in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, in London, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby called for Russia to declare a cease-fire and withdraw from Ukraine. The leader of the Anglican church said Easter is a time for peace and not ‘blood and iron.’

Noting that in the Eastern Orthodox church followed by many in Russia and Ukraine Sunday marks the start of Holy Week – with Easter coming on April 24 – Welby exhorted Russia to withdraw from Ukraine and commit to talks. 

Welby also condemned the British government’s recent plan to send some asylum-seekers to Rwanda as going against God. 

Yesterday Pope Francis called for ‘gestures of peace in these days marked by the horror of war’ in an Easter vigil homily in St Peter’s Basilica attended by the mayor of the occupied Ukrainian city of Melitopol.

Pope Francis greeted the crowd before reading his 'Urbi et Orbi' message from the balcony overlooking St Peter's Square, on Easter Sunday, at the Vatican

Pope Francis greeted the crowd before reading his 'Urbi et Orbi' message from the balcony overlooking St Peter's Square, on Easter Sunday, at the Vatican

Pope Francis greeted the crowd before reading his ‘Urbi et Orbi’ message from the balcony overlooking St Peter’s Square, on Easter Sunday, at the Vatican

Francis salutes Christian worshippers , pictured smiling and waving from the Popemobile car following the Easter mass at the Vatican today

Francis salutes Christian worshippers , pictured smiling and waving from the Popemobile car following the Easter mass at the Vatican today

Francis salutes Christian worshippers , pictured smiling and waving from the Popemobile car following the Easter mass at the Vatican today

The pope also reference to the threat of nuclear warfare, as he quoted from a declaration by scientists in 1955: 'Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war?'

The pope also reference to the threat of nuclear warfare, as he quoted from a declaration by scientists in 1955: 'Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war?'

The pope also reference to the threat of nuclear warfare, as he quoted from a declaration by scientists in 1955: ‘Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war?’

Ivan Fedorov was abducted and held for five days by Russian troops after they occupied Melitopol, a strategic southern city.

Francis noted that while ‘many writers have evoked the beauty of starlit nights…nights of war, however, are riven by streams of light that portend death’.

He did not refer directly to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but he has called for an Easter truce in order to reach a negotiated peace.

Political leaders also addressed the conflict in their Easter messages today, as Boris Johnson remarked that ‘Christ’s message of hope the triumph of life over death and good over evil will resonate this year perhaps more than any other’.

The Prime Minister, who is now banned from entering Russia following the Kremlin’s sanctions on a dozen other British government members and politicians, told Christians around the world to ‘be strong and have courage in your heart’.

He added: ‘Easter tells us that there is light beyond the darkness, that beyond the suffering lies redemption.’

Moscow has meanwhile accused Britain, with Johnson making a surprise visit to Ukraine last week, of ‘deliberately aggravating the situation surrounding Ukraine, pumping the Kyiv regime with lethal weapons and coordinating similar efforts on the behalf of NATO’ and threatened to expand its sanctions list ‘soon’.

The prime minister also tweeted out an Easter message in Ukrainian today, following a post yesterday in which he vowed to send more aid to Volodymyr Zelensky.

It said: ‘I updated my friend @ZelenskyyUa this afternoon on further military aid we will provide to Ukraine in the coming days.

‘The UK will stop at nothing to ensure Ukrainians have the resources they need to defend their country from the ongoing Russian onslaught.’

Keir Starmer’s message also touched on the conflict and themes of overcoming adversity.

The Labour leader said, in his address to ‘Christians around the world’: ‘I know you draw inspiration from the life of Jesus and the Easter story which is a message of overcoming adversity and of hope. Of light overcoming darkness.

‘And at this pivotal time, when Europe is at war and people are facing greater poverty at home, hope is more important than ever.

‘Thank you and Happy Easter.’  

Source: dailymail

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