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Pope hails Iran nuclear agreement


Pope Francis celebrates an Easter Mass in St Peter's square (AP)

Pope Francis celebrates an Easter Mass in St Peter's square (AP)

Pope Francis celebrates an Easter Mass in St Peter's square (AP)

Pope Francis made an Easter peace wish, praising the framework nuclear agreement with Iran as an opportunity for a safer world.

At the same time today, he expressed deep worry about bloodshed in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa.

Cautious hope ran through Francis' Urbi et Orbi Easter message, a kind of papal commentary on the state of the world's affairs, which he delivered from the central balcony of St Peter's Square.

He had just celebrated Mass in rain-struck St Peter's Square for tens of thousands of people.

Francis made his first public comments about the recent framework for an accord, reached in Lausanne, Switzerland, and aimed at ensuring Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon.

"In hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world."

Decrying the plentitude of weapons in the world in general, Francis said: "And we ask for peace for this world subjected to arms dealers, who earn their living with the blood of men and women."

He denounced "absurd bloodshed and all barbarous acts of violence" in Libya, convulsed by fighting fuelled by tribal and militia rivalries. He hoped "a common desire for peace" would prevail in Yemen, racked by civil warfare.

Francis prayed that the "roar of arms may cease" in Syria and Iraq, and that peace would come in Africa for Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan and Congo.

He recalled the young people, many of them targeted because they were Christians, killed last week in a Kenyan university, and lamented kidnappings by Islamic extremists that have plagued parts of Africa, including Nigeria.

On Good Friday, Francis chastised the international community for what he called the complicit silence about the killing of Christians. On Easter he prayed that God would alleviate "the suffering of so many of our brothers persecuted because of his name."

During Mass, Francis was shielded from pelting rain by a canopy erected outside St Peter's Basilica, while prelates carried umbrellas in the yellow and white colours of the Vatican.

The downpour petered out to a drizzle, and the rain had stopped by the start of the ceremony. Francis, wearing a white overcoat, was driven through the square in the open-sided popemobile so he could wave to the faithful.

PA Media