“All for all”: Pope Francis' plea to Ukraine and Russia

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Pope Francis did preside at the Easter Vigil on Saturday after not attending the Stations of the Cross at the last minute.

The Vigil began in complete darkness to symbolize a world without God. But at the moment the resurrection was announced, the Basilica was illuminated.

Pope Francis appeared somewhat tired but he still gave a homily. He reflected on the large stone that sealed Jesus' tomb.

Sometimes we feel that a tombstone has been heavily laid at the entrance of our hearts, suffocating life, extinguishing confidence, imprisoning us in a tomb of fears and bitterness, blocking the way to joy and hope.

Pope Francis continued with this idea the following day before the Urbi et Orbi blessing. But he said it applies both on a personal and international level. He noted that today there are many stones crushing humanity: terrorism, human trafficking and, above all, war.

The Pope issued a strong appeal for peace in the world and called for concrete humanitarian gestures. His list included the exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and Russia— an “all for all” approach—the arrival of humanitarian material in Gaza to be guaranteed, the hostages kidnapped by Hamas on October 7 to be released and that an immediate cease-fire is agreed upon. And the response in the Square was an eurption of applause.

Let us not allow the ongoing hostilities to continue, to severely affect the civilian population, now weary, especially the children. What suffering we see in the eyes of the children. They have forgotten to smile, those children in those territories of war.

Pope Francis also called for peace in Syria, in the Caucasus, in the Sahel and in the Horn of Africa. He prayed for the victims of climate catastrophes and he also made an appeal against abortion.

On this day, when we celebrate the life given to us in the resurrection of the Son, let us remember God's infinite love for each of us—a love that surpasses every limitation and every weakness. Yet how often is the precious gift of life so despised. How many children cannot even see the light?

St. Peter's Square was decorated with more than 30,000 flowers and plants brought from the Netherlands—a tradition that began in 1985 after the beatification of the Dutch Carmelite Titus Brandsma, who was murdered by the Nazis.


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