ROME — Amid blue skies and sunshine, Pope Francis pushed through thousands of worshipers to deliver his Easter address at the Vatican on Sunday, praying for the Russians and Ukrainians and calling for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. .
Just over a week after being released from the hospital after four days of treatment for bronchitis, Francisco spoke of the «darkness and sadness in which our world is too often engulfed» while highlighting trouble spots. Worldwide.
A carpet of 38,000 flowers donated by the Netherlands graced Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City, where the 86-year-old pontiff, along with dozens of prelates and tens of thousands of faithful, marked the celebration of Easter as units of honor of the Swiss of the Vatican. Carbinieri’s guards and Italian police came to attention in ceremonial dress.
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An estimated 45,000 people gathered for the mid-morning mass, Vatican security services told the Associated Press, with the crowd growing to 100,000 ahead of the pope’s speech.
The Easter message, known by its Latin name «Urbi et Orbi» – «to the city and to the world» – saw Francis pray for the «beloved Ukrainian people on their path to peace» and for «the light of the Passover over the people.» From Russia.»
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Francis has regularly referred to Ukraine and its people as «martyrs» and has called for an end to the fighting.
Ukrainian diplomats have previously complained that it has not been tough enough on Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin as the Vatican struggles to avoid alienating Russia from the Church.
Francis also called for peace in the Middle East, a call made more urgent by deadly violence over the weekend in the West Bank and Tel Aviv and cross-border rocket and air strikes between Israel, Lebanon and Syria.
He also made reference to the February earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, which left more than 57,000 confirmed dead, and praised countries that offer «assistance and reception» to refugees.
Joe Donnelly, the US ambassador to the Vatican, who attended the service, told NBC News that President Joe Biden was concerned about the pontiff’s health.
“The United States wants to make sure that its friend the Pope feels better, but it goes much further than that,” he said. “Every day during the Pope’s illness we would hear ‘could you update the president because he is worried about his friend,’” he said. «Before he’s from leader to leader or city state to nation, he’s from friend to friend.»
Elizabeth Kuhr reported from Vatican City and Leila Sackur from London.
Associated Press and Reuters contributed.