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Pope Francis Calls for Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza

Sun 31 Mar 2024 | 03:16 PM
Pope Francis
Pope Francis
By Ahmad El-Assasy

In an Easter Sunday message, Pope Francis renewed his call for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and the release of all Israeli hostages. Presiding over the Mass in a flower-adorned St. Peter's Square, filled with attendees, the Pope also delivered his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

Expressing his sorrow over the killing and destruction in the Gaza conflict repeatedly, Pope Francis reiterated his call for a ceasefire in the Palestinian territory. "I renew my call to ensure the possibility of humanitarian aid access to Gaza and urge once again for the immediate release of the hostages taken on the seventh of October last year and for an immediate ceasefire in the sector," he stated in his address.

"Such suffering we see in the eyes of the children. These children have forgotten how to smile in those war-torn lands. With their gazes, they ask us: why? Why all this death.. Why all this destruction? Wars are nothing but folly and defeat," he added.

The Pope's Easter message traditionally focuses on international affairs, mentioning other global hotspots today, including Ukraine, Syria, Lebanon, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Haiti, Myanmar, Sudan, the Sahel region, the Horn of Africa, the Congo, and Mozambique.

Pope Francis, 87, has faced health issues in the past few weeks, limiting his speaking engagements and canceling some commitments, as he did on Good Friday when he decided not to participate in the procession at the Colosseum in Rome shortly before the event. However, he took part in the Holy Week events leading up to Easter and appeared in relatively good health during today's Mass.