Pope Francis is the incredibly popular figurehead of the Catholic Church, and he is fortunate in that the majority of his opinions and speeches are actually listened to by the world’s vast population. In his latest speech, commemorating the Easter celebrations, he took the opportunity to highlight some of the conflict that is currently happening around the world.
Some of the locations that Pope Francis spoke of are ones that are usually seen each day in our news. Syria, a country that has been marred by a civil war that has racked the population for the last three years. Over its bloody course, over 150,000 people have lost their lives, many of them civilians that would like nothing more than to be out of the horrendous conflict. Millions have already taken that action, fleeing their home country in their droves. About five percent of the Syrian population holds to a Christian faith, and during the Easter celebrations the Greek Orthodox patriarch stated that Christians would not cower to those that would attack them, and the Pope prayed that peace negotiations would be successful in that area.
However, Pope Francis also mentioned fighting that has surfaced more recently, although just as deadly. Just on Easter Sunday this year, tensions between those that support Russia and those that are loyal to the government within Ukraine erupted into a shooting in the east, killing several people. The tensions within Ukraine have been mounting for several months, but there does not seem to be any end in sight to the anger. Pope Francis prayed to God that all involved in the peace process there would make ‘every effort to prevent violence’.
More remote areas that have not received as much mainstream media coverage were highlighted by Pope Francis in his address. Places that have unsettled tensions, such as Venezuela, Nigeria, or the Central African Republic, were mentioned by Pope Francis as places that particularly needed prayer and aid from the international community. Pope Francis also prayed against the sickness flooding through Africa: the Ebola virus has been ripping apart families and communities.
Pope Francis ended his Easter address encouraging people to look close to home for those that needed help and aid in our home communities, and readings from the Bible were read in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English. His calls to peace and harmony were well-received by everyone present.