Pope's Easter Message condemns ‘rejection’ of refugees, decries ‘blind’ terrorism
In the wake of terrorist attacks in Belgium, Pope Francis says “weapons of love” can defeat “blind and brutal violence”
After a Holy Week blighted by a series of terrorism attacks which left hundreds dead, Pope Francis used the traditional Easter address to urge the world to use “weapons of love” to combat the “brutal violence” of terrorism and expressed his dismay that refugees trying to enter the European Union are being rejected.
Delivering his traditional ‘Urbi et Orbi’ (to the city and the world) message to thousands gathered in St Peter’s Square, the Pope remembered the victims of the Brussels attacks, as well as those who were killed in similar attacks in Turkey, Iraq, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and the Ivory Coast.
The Pope used his Easter Message – which he called “a message of life for all humanity” – to address the plight of refugees and victims of violence, injustice, terrorism, instability, peace, as well as climate change.
Condemning terrorism as a “blind and brutal violence” that should be fought with “weapons of love”, the 79-year-old Pontiff said “May he [the risen Christ] draw us closer on this Easter feast to the victims of terrorism, that blind and brutal form of violence which continues to shed blood in different parts of the world,” the Pope said.
“With the weapons of love, God has defeated selfishness and death,” the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholic population said.
The 79-year-old Argentine pontiff urged people to channel the hope of Easter in order to defeat “the evil that seems to have the upper hand in the life of so many people”.
He also condemned the Brussels attacks several times during the past week, including at a Good Friday service where he said followers of religions who carried out acts of fundamentalism or terrorism were profaning God’s name.
The Pope also condemned those who turned their back on refugees, and said that “all too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way with death, or, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance.”
“The Easter message of the risen Christ … invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees – including many children – fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice,” the Pope said.
Tens of thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers, mainly fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq, are now stranded in Greece after the European Union and Turkey agreed to shut the route to northern Europe in an effort at halting the mass travel of refugees into Europe.
Decrying the destruction and “contempt for humanitarian law” in Syria, the Pope expressed hope that peace talks could resolve the conflict in the war-torn country and that there be initiated a “building of a fraternal society respectful of the dignity and rights of citizens.”
“The risen Christ points out paths of hope to beloved Syria, a country torn by a lengthy conflict, with its sad wake of destruction, death, contempt for humanitarian law and the breakdown of civil concord,” he said.
Similarly, the Pope called for a dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, and resolutions to conflicts and political tensions in Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Burundi, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Ukraine.
On climate change, the Pope said that the world is “often mistreated and greedily exploited, and as a consequence areas affected by climate change have fallen victim to drought or violent flooding, result in good crises in different parts of the world.