1/4/13; Josephine McKenna
Pope Francis celebrates leading the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics into Easter for the first time as he calls for world peace. Pope Francis has condemned the world’s “greed” and the lust for “easy gain” as he used his first Easter Sunday mass in St Peter’s Square to make a sweeping plea for greater social equality, global peace and an end to the killing in Syria.
Pope Francis used the traditional “Urbi et Orbi” address (the phrase is Latin for “the city and the world”), to press for peace in the Middle East, Africa and Asia in his first broad political statement. The Pontiff called for reconciliation on the Korean peninsula, peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and an end to violence in Iraq and “dear Syria”. Plea for social equality … Pope Francis, greeting the faithful during Easter Mass on Sunday, used the traditional ‘Urbi et Orbi’ address to press for peace.
“How much blood has been shed and how much suffering must there still be before a political solution will be found?” he said, referring to the Syrian conflict.
But the Pope stressed that the world was “divided by greed looking for easy gain” and “wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family”.
He also said world peace was threatened by environmental exploitation, human trafficking and the violence linked to drug trafficking. More than 250,000 pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square and the surrounding streets to hear the Pope address the crowd on one of the most important days of the Christian calendar. The square was filled with flags from the Pope’s native Argentina as well as those of France, Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy. The Pontiff’s address was interrupted several times by enthusiastic applause and at the end there were cries of “Long live the Pope!”
After mass, the Pope blessed the faithful as he was driven through the square, and stopped to kiss a baby and embrace a seriously disabled child. Twenty-one Roman Catholic MPs and peers have written to the Pope urging him to consider relaxing the rules on priestly celibacy in Britain. The group say that allowing married former Anglican clergy to become Catholic priests proves that married clergy can be a “great blessing”.