Pope in Good Form at Easter Mass

Pontiff, 87, shakes off winter illness as he calls for peace
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 31, 2024 7:30 AM CDT
Pope in Good Form at Easter Mass
Pope Francis smiles after celebrating Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Sunday, March 31, 2024.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Rallying from a winter-long bout of respiratory problems, Pope Francis led some 30,000 people in Easter celebrations Sunday while making a strong appeal for a ceasefire in Gaza and a prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine. From the AP:

  • Francis presided over Easter Sunday Mass in a flower-decked St. Peter's Square and then delivered a heartfelt prayer for peace in his annual roundup of global crises. In between, he made several loops around the piazza in his popemobile, greeting well-wishers.
  • This year, Francis said his thoughts went particularly to people in Ukraine and Gaza and all those facing war, particularly the children who he said had "forgotten how to smile." He added: "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!"

  • He also called for the "prompt" release of prisoners taken from Israel on Oct. 7, an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, and for humanitarian access to reach Palestinians. "Let us not allow the current hostilities to continue to have grave repercussions on the civil population, by now at the limit of its endurance, and above all on the children," he said.
  • The 87-year-old Francis appeared in good form, despite having celebrated the 2½-hour nighttime Easter Vigil just hours before. The pontiff, who had part of one lung removed as a young man, has been battling respiratory problems all winter. The Vatican said some 30,000 people attended the Mass.
  • "Peace is never made with weapons, but with outstretched hands and open hearts," Francis said from the loggia overlooking the square.
(More Pope Francis stories.)

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