Pope Francis urges respect for human life, denouncing war, in his Easter Message for 2024

(Photo: Vatican News)Pope Francis at Urbi et Orbi speech on March 31, 2024.

War was on the mind of Pope Francis when he delivered his 2024 Urbi et Orbi Easter message referring specifically to "those in Israel and Palestine, and in Ukraine," as he called war "a defeat" and "an absurdity."

The 87-year-old Pope began his March 31 message from the Basilica of St. Peter's church after East mass by saying his thoughts go especially to the victims of the many conflicts worldwide, beginning with those in "Israel, Palestine, and Ukraine."

"May the risen Christ open a path of peace for the war-torn peoples of those regions," he said in the Urbi et Orbi message to the people of Rome and the world, Vatican News reported.

"In calling for respect for the principles of international law," Francis continued, "I express my hope for a general exchange of all prisoners between Russia and Ukraine: all for the sake of all!"

He said too, "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 7 October last and for an immediate cease-fire in the Strip."

Francis arrived in a wheelchair to preside over the mass from 10:00 am, local time, in cloudy and windy weather, with the events broadcast live around the globe, AFP reported.

The Pope appealed for an end to current hostilities that continue to have grave repercussions on the civil population and, above all, on the children.

"How much suffering we see in their eyes! With those eyes, they ask us: Why? Why all this death? Why all this destruction?

The Pope reiterated that war is always "a defeat" and "an absurdity."

Respect "for the precious gift of life" was a central idea of the Pope's Easter Message.

At the Easter Mass, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dean of the College of Cardinals, read the famous Gospel in which Mary Magdalene went to the tomb at dawn, saw the slab removed from the tomb, and after warning Peter and the "other disciple, whom Jesus loved," Omnes reported.

Pope Francis said, "Today the proclamation that went forth two thousand years ago from Jerusalem resounds throughout the world: "Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified One, is risen" (cf. Mk 16:6),


"The Church relives the amazement of the women who went to the tomb at dawn on the first day of the week. The tomb of Jesus had been closed with a great stone; and so too today there are heavy rocks, too heavy, that close the hopes of humanity: the rock of war, the rock of humanitarian crises, the rock of human rights violations, the rock of human trafficking, and others."

"We too, like the women disciples of Jesus, asked one another: 'Who will roll these stones away from us? And here is the great discovery of Easter morning: the stone, that great stone, had already been rolled away. The astonishment of the women is our astonishment. The tomb of Jesus is open and empty. From there everything begins.'"

"Jesus alone removes the stones that close the way to life," said Francis.

"Jesus Christ is risen, and He alone is able to remove the stones that block the path to life. Moreover, He Himself, the Living One, is the Way; the Way of life, of peace, of reconciliation, of fraternity," the Pope continued.

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