During this year’s Easter mass, Pop Francis addressed a touching message to those present and the rest of the world. He prayed for an end to the persecution of Christians, reminding those attending the mass held at St. Peter’s Square of such dramatic events as those happening in Africa and the Middle East.
This is the 78-year-old Argentinian Pope’s third Easter mass held at St. Peter’s Basilica. After the Mass which was heard by tens of thousands of people, eager to hear the Pope’s message despite the rainy weather, the religious leader came to the central balcony to say a few words.
He asked for everyone to pray for those killed in the Kenyan massacre that occurred last Thursday, April 2 when nearly 150 students attending the Garissa University were singled out by members of the al Shabaab Islamist group and shot point-blank. The reason – their Christian beliefs.
During his somber “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message he said he would pray for those who are suffering from all the conflicts and injustice:
“We ask Jesus, the victor over death, to lighten the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted for his name, and of all those who suffer injustice as a result of ongoing conflicts and violence – and there are many.”
He then talked about the young victims of the Kenyan massacre along with “those who have been kidnapped, and for those forced to abandon their homes and their dear ones.”
Referring to the tragic events in Libya, where last February 22 Egyptian Coptic Christians were executed through beheading by Islamic State fighters, the pope talked about the “absurd bloodshed and all barbarous acts of violence”.
He sent his prayers towards those in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria where Christian churches are now targeted by Boko Haram, another Islamic extremist group. He said:
“We ask for peace and freedom for the many men and women subject to old and new forms of enslavement on the part of criminal individuals and groups.”
The only positive reference included in the Pope’s message was that of the settlement agreed upon in Lausanne, Switzerland. Last week, a nuclear accord was reached between Iran and an international community consisted of six world powers.
Image Source: The Sunday Times