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ROME - Pope Francis celebrated a second Easter as the coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of easing in Italy and has again forced a nationwide lockdown. The pope urged access to care and to vaccines for everyone, especially in low-income countries. He also decried "too many wars" that are still raging in the world.
Pope Francis celebrated Easter mass with around 200 people in Saint Peter's Basilica and then delivered his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" message and blessing on the most important day in the Christian liturgical calendar which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. The pope offers such messages which means "to the city [of Rome] and to the world," during Easter and Christmas.
In his message, the pope said, there are still too many wars and too much violence in the world today. He prayed that God may help people overcome the mindset of war.
The Easter message, the pope said, does not offer a mirage or reveal a magic formula. It does not point to an escape from the difficult situation the world is experiencing, he said. The pope added that the pandemic is still spreading, while the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for people who are economically marginalized. Nonetheless, he said, it is unfortunate that military spending and armed conflict continue during the pandemic. The pope said: "This is the scandal of today."
The risen Christ, the pope said, is hope for all those who continue to suffer from the pandemic, both the sick and those who have lost a loved one. He prayed that God may give them comfort and sustain the valiant efforts of doctors and nurses.
The pope stressed how everyone and especially those most vulnerable must have access to the necessary care. He said COVID-19 vaccines are an essential tool in these times in the fight against the spread of the pandemic. He urged the international community, to join in a spirit of global responsibility, to commit in overcoming delays in the distribution of vaccines and to facilitate their distribution, especially in lower-income countries.
The pandemic, the pope said, has unfortunately dramatically increased the numbers of vulnerable people and has pushed thousands into desperate conditions. He expressed the hope that those who find themselves in poor conditions may find hope once again.
Pope Francis' thoughts turned to those who have lost their jobs and face serious economic difficulties. He also mentioned the many young people who were forced to go extended periods without being able to attend school or university or without being able to spend time with their friends. Experiencing real personal relationships, not just virtual relationships, the pope stressed, is something that everyone needs.
As is customary in his Easter message Pope Francis mentioned countries that are of particular concern in the world. The pope encouraged the people of Haiti not to let themselves be discouraged by the difficulties being faced. He said he was close to the people of Haiti and said he was praying for their problems to be definitively resolved.
Pope Francis also expressed his praise to the young people of Myanmar. He commended their commitment for a democratic change and making their voices heard peacefully. He hoped for an end to the conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya and wished that people would be able to find peace so that war-weary peoples may begin the reconstruction of their countries.
The pope also called for peace in several conflict areas in Africa, including the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia and the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique.