Wednesday 27 September 2017

Pope grieves over horrors of war and condemns 'vile' attack in Aleppo

Pope Francis celebrates Easter Mass in St Peter's Square at the Vatican (Andrew Medichini/AP)
Pope Francis celebrates Easter Mass in St Peter's Square at the Vatican (Andrew Medichini/AP)
Pope Francis arrives to celebrate the Easter Mass (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis celebrates the Easter Mass in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Thousands brave the rain to attend Easter Mass celebrated by Pope Francis (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
St Peter's Square during Easter Mass celebrated by Pope Francis (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope Francis has lamented the horrors generated by war and hatred in his Easter Sunday message in which he also condemned the "latest vile" attack on civilians in Syria.

Francis, in his balcony address, prayed that God would sustain those working to comfort and help the civilian population in Syria, "prey to a war that continues to sow horror and death."

He condemned the explosion on Saturday that ripped through a bus depot in the Aleppo area where evacuees were awaiting transfer, killing at least 100 people.

"Yesterday saw the latest vile attack on fleeing refugees," said Francis, who also prayed for peace in the Holy Land, Iraq and Yemen.

Addressing some 60,000 faithful, Francis encouraged people to hold fast in their "fearful hearts" to faith, acknowledging that many people wonder where God is amid so much evil and suffering in the world.

He reflected on suffering including wars, oppressive regimes, human trafficking, corruption, famine and domestic violence in an impromptu homily during Mass in St Peter's Square and in his formal "Urbi et Orbi" Easter message delivered from St Peter's Basilica.

The crowds, smaller than in some previous years when 100,000 have turned out, endured tight security checks and a brief downpour to hear Francis and receive his blessing.

Francis attacked the "scandalous reality of a world still marked by the divide between the endless number of indigent" and the "tiny portion of those who possess the majority of riches and presume to decide the fates of humanity."

He made the criticism in a letter to the bishop of Assisi, the birthplace of St Francis, whose name he chose for his papacy.

Francis recalled "all those forced to leave their homelands as a result of armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, famine and oppressive regimes."

The Catholic Church's first pontiff from Latin America voiced concern over the "political and social tensions" in the world as well as the "scourge of corruption" on his home continent.

He also mentioned hostilities and famine plaguing parts of Africa.

Francis spoke of Europe's problems, mentioning the continued conflict and bloodshed in Ukraine, and prayed for hope for those struggling with high unemployment, especially young people.

In his homily, he also described a question for many faithful: Why are there so many tragedies and wars if Jesus has risen from the dead, a belief that Christians celebrate each Easter?

"The Church never ceases to say, faced with our defeats, our closed and fearful hearts, 'stop, the Lord is risen.' But if the Lord is risen, how come these things happen?" Francis asked.

He said having faith on Easter gives sense in the middle of "so many calamities: the sense of looking beyond, the sense of saying, look, there isn't a wall, there's a horizon, there's life, there's joy."

AP

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