Pope Francis in his traditional Easter address decried internal violence and international terrorism, especially in the Sahel and Nigeria.
Other troubled areas he mentioned were Ethiopia’s Tigray province and Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, which has been blooded by days of fighting with rebels for control of a town.
The Catholic pontiff prayed for the safe return home of prisoners of long conflicts in Europe, in eastern Ukraine and in Nagorno-Karabkh.
He denounced as “scandalous” how armed conflicts continue to rage even as the Coronavirus pandemic has triggered severe social and economic suffering and swollen the ranks of the poor.
Francis tempered his “Urbi et Orbi” address (Latin for “To the city and to the world”) wishes of joy on the Christian feast day along with accounts of pain from the globe’s many armed conflicts in Africa, the Mideast, Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe.
Describing vaccines as an “essential tool” in the pandemic battle, Francis called for a “spirit of global responsibility” as he encouraged nations to overcome “delays in the distribution of vaccines” and ensure that the shots reach the poorest nations.
“Everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us, requires assistance and has the right to have access to necessary care,” the pontiff said. He sounded a note of indignation at the start of his address, decrying that there has been no shortage of war and conflict during the world’s worst health crisis in a century.
“The pandemic is still spreading, while the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for the poor. Nevertheless, and this is scandalous, armed conflicts have not ended, and military arsenals are being strengthened,’’ Francis said, sounding angry.
“That is today’s scandal.”
The pontiff prayed that public authorities would see to it that those needing assistance have a “decent standard of living.”
“Sadly, the pandemic has dramatically increased the number of the poor and the despair of thousands of people.”