Pope Francis prays for peace in Syria, Korea on first Easter

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Pope Francis delivers the Urbi et Orbi (to the city and to the world) message at the end of the Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Sunday, March 31, 2013. Pope Francis celebrated his first Easter Sunday Mass as pontiff in St. Peter’s Square, packed by joyous pilgrims, tourists and Romans and bedecked by spring flowers. Wearing cream-colored vestments, Francis strode onto the esplanade in front of St. Peter’s Basilica and took his place at an altar set up under a white canopy. AP

VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis prayed for a “political solution” in Syria and for “reconciliation” on the Korean peninsula in his first Easter Sunday message in front of a crowd in St. Peter’s Square.

Latin America’s first pontiff also issued an appeal for hostages held by militants in Nigeria and condemned human trafficking as “the most extensive form of slavery in this 21st century”.

The pope delivered his “Urbi et Orbi” blessing to Rome and the world from the same balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica where he made his first appearance after his momentous election to the papacy this month.

Speaking in front of some 250,000 people from around the world in the Vatican, Francis prayed for “dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort.

“How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?” he said.

“On the Korean peninsula, may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow,” he said, a day after North Korea declared it was in a “state of war” with South Korea.

Francis also prayed for Nigeria “where great numbers of people, including children, are held hostage by terrorist groups” — an apparent reference to a French family kidnapped in Cameroon and believed held by the Nigerian group Boko Haram.

The pope also toured St. Peter’s Square in his open-top “popemobile” — kissing babies and waving to cheering crowds who held up flags from around the world including his native Argentina.

Easter is the holiest day in the Christian calendar and celebrates the belief in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. It is the culmination of weeks of intense prayer for Christians.

At an Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday, the first pontiff from outside Europe in nearly 1,300 years of Church history reached out to non-believers and lapsed Catholics, urging them to “step forward” to God.

“He will receive you with open arms,” said the 76-year-old, formerly Buenos Aires archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, who has called for the Roman Catholic Church to be closer to ordinary people and the needy.

The Catholic Church is struggling in the face of rising secularism, particularly in Europe where attendances at Mass are falling sharply.

On Sunday, Francis prayed God’s message would reach “every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons.”

“How many deserts, even today, do human beings need to cross! Above all, the desert within, when we have no love for God or neighbor,” he said.

On Holy Thursday, Francis celebrated an unprecedented Mass in a youth prison in Rome in which he washed the feet of 12 inmates including two girls and two Muslims — a ritual seen as a gesture of humility towards the 12 apostles attributed to Jesus.

Previous popes only ever performed the ritual with priests or Catholic laymen.

On Good Friday, Francis presided over a torch-lit ceremony at the Colosseum in Rome, where Christians are believed to have been martyred. There, he prayed for peace in the Middle East and urged dialogue with “our Muslim brothers”.

The new pope has said he wants a “poor Church for poor people” and has adopted a less formal style than that of his predecessor Benedict XVI, already breaking with several Vatican traditions in his first few weeks in office.

A moderate conservative on Catholic doctrine, he was known in Argentina for his humble lifestyle, his outreach in poor neighborhoods and his strong social advocacy during his homeland’s devastating economic crisis.

Vatican experts say he is yet to begin tackling key problems for the Church, however, including reform of the scandal-ridden Vatican bureaucracy.

Analysts are keeping a close eye on his appointments to top Vatican posts after Easter amid calls for a radical overhaul.

The status of the powerful Vatican bank, which is under investigation in Italy for money laundering but has made efforts in recent years to reform itself, is also a pressing issue.

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  • Menemes Roman

    Hi Brothers&Sisters, first of all, a blessed Easter to all!

    Just wanted to share my findings that Peter really is meant to be the head servant.
    Here, have a quick look:

    For the prophecy part, in Isaiah 22:21-23 we read:

    21 I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. HE WILL BE A FATHER to those who live in
    Jerusalem and to the people of Judah.22 I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 23 I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will become a seat of honor for the house of his father.

    For the affirmation of the promise, in Matthew 16:18-19 we read:

    18 And I tell you that you are PETER,and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

    (take note that keys = authority, Hades = death, will not overcome by death-> Jesus is promising perpetuity)

    For the fullfilliment part, in John 21:15-17 we read:
    Jesus Reinstates Peter

    15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
    “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
    16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
    17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
    Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
    Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

    (Sheep = elders = presbyter, lamb a young sheep, representing the laity)

    The question now is, do we belong to the flock of our Lord Jesus Christ?
    Do we get our spiritual food from Peter? Do we listen to his voice?
    Once again Blessed Easter to all and,

    may our Lord Bless us all :)

    • juanpedro de jose

      Nice fairy tale!..

      • rustt_9ten

        Valuable truth of which many are in denial

  • henri_see

    Obviously, the haters of Roman Catholics here have done a lot of good for peace in the world, especially the two Koreas, one of whom, btw, is fanatically atheist.

    • Manuel_II

      And you think your Roman Catholic church have done a lot of good, maybe you should start reading your history book again.

      • rustt_9ten

        Maybe you should history yourself. Maybe you have but your comprehension is faulty

      • henri_see

        100 year-old corporations in Wall Street almost brought the world economy down in 2008 because of greed.
        You think a 2,000-year-old organization run by humans won’t commit a mistake.
        Just think again, 70 yrs of official atheism in Eastern Europe, Russia, Asia, how many people did it kill? Just 70 years and the numbers are enough to dwarf all that all religions killed in 5,000 years. And the effects of those official atheism are still being felt today with the corruption, gangsters and other evils in those former Soviet bloc countries.
        Explore other areas of the library my friend, if you read, that is.

  • inq er6

    pope francis has foot fetish

    • rustt_9ten

      So did Jesus have one too when he washed His apostles’ feet? Watch your tongue let you blaspheme

  • boybakal

    Too much news for this Pope.
    Nakakasawa na.
    Pati paa ng may paa hinugasan.

    • rustt_9ten

      Bakit mo binabasa. Nakakasawa na mga reklamo nyo

  • rustt_9ten

    Gid bless our beloved Pope

  • marlo concepcion

    let us pray. and that’s all they can do.
    oh and need donation para pagandahin ang simbahan. simbahan muna before we tend to the needy.

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