'Defenceless' being killed in Holy Land: Pope's Easter address after Gaza violence
Pope Francis, in his Easter address on Sunday, called for peace in the Holy Land two days after 15 Palestinians were killed on the Israeli-Gaza border, saying the conflict there "does not spare the defenceless".
The pope made his appeal in his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica to tens of thousands of people in the flower-bedecked square below where he earlier celebrated a Mass, news agency Reuters reported.
According to Reuters, the pontiff appeared to refer directly to the Gaza violence last Friday (March 30), calling for a reconciliation in the Holy Land where an ongoing conflict "does not spare the defenceless".
Francis also appealed for an end to the "carnage" in Syria, calling for humanitarian aid to be allowed to enter, and for peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics also begged for peace for the entire world, in particular for Syria, hoping that the light of the risen Christ could illumine the consciences of all political and military leaders in order to end the conflict. He spoke a day after the Syrian army command said it had regained most of the towns and villages in eastern Ghouta.
Tens of thousands of people have now evacuated once-bustling towns in the suburbs east of the capital, which had nearly 2 million people before the start of the conflict and were major commercial and industrial hubs.
The pope called also for international assistance for Venezuela, so that more people would not have to abandon their homeland because of the economic and political crisis.
Speaking about the ongoing situation in Korean peninsula, the pontiff said that he is hoping that "fruits of dialogue" would advance peace and harmony in a region where the two sides are set to hold their first summit in more than a decade on April 27, after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged his commitment to denuclearisation.
Francis celebrated his sixth Easter as Roman Catholic leader since his election in 2013 and urged his listeners to work for an end to the acts of injustice in the world.