Pope condemns failure to help migrants

Media captionPope Francis gives Easter blessing

Pope Francis has condemned those who fail to help migrants, during his traditional Easter speech in Rome.

The Pope said migrants often met “rejection from those who could offer them welcome and assistance”.

He also condemned terrorism as “a blind and brutal violence” that should be fought with “weapons of love”.

The Pope was delivering his “urbi et orbi” (To the city and the world) message to thousands amid tight security in St Peter’s Square.

Syrian prayer

The Pope said: “The Easter message of the risen Christ… invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees… fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice.

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Pope Francis also condemned terrorism as “a blind and brutal violence”

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Pope Francis takes a tour of the square after his blessing and before his speech

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Security was tight in the square after the terrorist attacks on Tuesday in Brussels

“All too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way with death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance.”

Tens of thousands of migrants, mainly fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq, are now stranded in Greece, after European nations and Turkey agreed a plan to shut their route to northern Europe.

Pope Francis also offered a prayer for Syria: “The risen Christ points out paths of hope to beloved Syria, a country torn by a lengthy conflict with its sad wake of destruction, death, contempt for humanitarian law and the breakdown of civil concord.”

He expressed his hope for success at peace scheduled to resume next month.

The Pope also urged people to use the “weapons of love” to combat the evil of terrorism.

He spoke of recent attacks in Belgium, Turkey, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, and Iraq.

“May [the risen Jesus Christ] draw us closer on this Easter feast to the victims of terrorism, that blind and brutal form of violence which continues to shed blood in different parts of the world,” he said (text in Italian).

The latest terror attack – in Brussels on Tuesday – left 28 people dead. The former king and queen of Belgium, Albert II and Paola, attended the Mass on Sunday and met the Pope.

Many pilgrims cancelled their planned trips to Rome in the wake of the violence in Brussels, but the square was packed on Sunday, as was St Peter’s Basilica when Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Saturday evening.

In his homily in the basilica, he called on Christians not to let fear and pessimism “imprison” them.

He said: “Today is the celebration of our hope. It is so necessary today.”

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