EASTER MASS CELEBRATION: POPE FRANCIS CALLS FOR CEASEFIRE IN GAZA

Pope Francis called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in his traditional Easter message, delivered following renewed concerns over the health of the 87-year-old pontiff. In the message, delivered in front of tens of thousands gathered at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Francis addressed the
conflicts in Europe and the Middle East, condemning war as an “absurdity.”
Pope Francis had pulled out a Good Friday service at the last minute “to preserve his health” for the rest of the weekend’s celebrations, according to the Vatican.
The Pope has been leading Holy Week liturgies, presiding over five since Thursday, including an Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday, which lasted more than two hours.

Papal watchers have been closely monitoring the octogenarian’s well-being since last year, when he had an operation on his abdomen and was hospitalized with bronchitis.
The Pope has been hospitalized for tests in recent weeks. He has also relied on his aides to read out some of his speeches at times when he was suffering from colds, the flu or bouts of bronchitis.
But Francis has also shown a determination to participate as fully as possible in Holy Week and Easter, which is the most intense time of year for any pope.
During his address on Sunday, Francis reiterated his plea for an “immediate ceasefire” in Israel-Hamas war while also calling for “access to humanitarian aid to the people at Gaza and the
“prompt release of the hostages.”
On the war in Ukraine, the pontiff said both sides should engage in a “general exchange of prisoners” and urged world leaders to do their part and end the war. He added that children caught up
in war, had “forgotten how to smile.
Francis also called for help for those suffering from “food insecurity and the effects of climate change” and asked all those with “political responsibilities” to stop the scourge of human trafficking.

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