Pope Francis urges peace in Gaza during easter address


Pope Francis made a strong appeal for a cease-fire in Gaza and the “prompt” release of all Israeli hostages during his traditional Easter message “to the city and the world” on Sunday.

The address came after Francis presided over Mass in the morning and made several loops around the piazza, greeting some of the tens of thousands of people the Vatican estimated to be in attendance.

Francis appeared “in good form,” The Associated Press reported, after battling respiratory problems all winter. It was a reassuring sign after Francis skipped the traditional Good Friday procession and skipped the Palm Sunday Mass last week, leaving an open question as to whether he would be fully participating in the Easter celebrations.

From the central balcony of the St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis delivered the traditional annual address, expressing his sympathies for those suffering throughout the world and calling for a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine.

“My thoughts go especially to the victims of the many conflicts worldwide, beginning with those in Israel and Palestine, and in Ukraine. May the risen Christ open a path of peace for the war-torn peoples of those regions. In calling for respect for the principles of international law, I express my hope for a general exchange of all prisoners between Russia and Ukraine, all for the sake of all.”

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