Pope Francis calls for ceasefire in Gaza during Easter message

Pope Francis calls for ceasefire in Gaza during Easter message
Pope Francis calls for a ceasefire in Gaza during a blustery Easter …
Euronews Europe / VideoElephant

Pope Francis has called for a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of all Israeli hostages during his Easter Sunday address.

The Pontiff delivered his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing and message from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica after he presided over Mass in front of a crowd in St Peter's Square at the Vatican, Reuters reported.

While Francis took part in Holy Week events in the run-up to Easter, the 87-year-old has recently limited his public speaking due to poor health and cancelled engagements on Good Friday but gave a speech on Easter Sunday – the most important day in the Christian calendar.

Following the service, he greeted the crowds (up to 60,000 the Vatican estimated) as he took to his open-topped popemobile.

The Pope used his Easter message to repeat his decries at the ongoing death and destruction in the Gaza war and continued his call for a ceasefire.

"I appeal once again that access to humanitarian aid be ensured to Gaza, and call once more for the prompt release of the hostages seized on last October 7 and for an immediate ceasefire in the Strip," he said.

"How much suffering we see in the eyes of children, the children have forgotten to smile in those war zones. With their eyes, children ask us: Why? Why all this death? Why all this destruction? War is always an absurdity and a defeat."

As is tradition, the Pope's Easter message focuses on current events around the world, with Ukraine, Syria, Lebanon, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Haiti, Myanmar, Sudan, the Sahel and Horn of Africa regions, Congo and Mozambique also got mentioned.

Francis also urged to help those suffering from “food insecurity and the effects of climate change” and requested leaders with “political responsibilities” to help prevent human trafficking.

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