Pope Francis, in Easter address, calls for Gaza ceasefire

Pope Francis, in Easter address, calls for Gaza ceasefire
Pope Francis has called for a ceasefire in Gaza in his Easter message, deploring the death and destruction and suffering of children.
2 min read
Pope Francis called for a ceasefire in Gaza in his Easter address [Getty]

Pope Francis made renewed calls on Easter Sunday for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the release of all Israeli hostages in a peace-focused address marking the most important day on the Christian calendar.

Francis presided over Mass in a packed St Peter's Square, and then delivered his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing and message from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

Francis, 87, has been in poor health in recent weeks, forcing him on repeated occasions to limit his public speaking and cancel engagements as he did on Good Friday, skipping at short notice a procession at Rome's Colosseum.

However, he took part normally in other Holy Week events leading up to Easter, and appeared in relatively good spirits at Sunday's Mass. Easter celebrates the day in which the faithful believe Jesus rose from the dead.

After the service, the pontiff took to his open-topped popemobile to tour the square and the avenue connecting the Vatican to the River Tiber and greet the tens of thousands of people who had lined up to see him.

Francis has repeatedly deplored the death and destruction in the Gaza war. Israel has killed at least 32,782 people, mostly women and children, in a ruthless and indiscriminate military campaign that has left the territory in ruins.

The war broke out following a surprise Hamas attack on October 7 2023 which killed around 1160 Israelis, mostly civilians, and resulted in the capture of around 240 - about 130 of whom remain in captivity.

"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 last October 7 and for an immediate ceasefire in the Strip," he said on Sunday.

"How much suffering we see in the eyes of children, the children have forgotten to smile in those war zones. With their eyes, children ask us: Why? Why all this death? Why all this destruction? War is always an absurdity and a defeat", he added.

(Reuters and The New Arab Staff)