On Easter, Pope calls for end to war, condemns waste exacerbating hunger

Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:35am EDT
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis, in his Easter address before a huge crowd, on Sunday denounced the "immense wastefulness" in the world while many go hungry and called for an end to conflicts in Syria, Ukraine and Africa.

"We ask you, Lord Jesus, to put an end to all war and every conflict, whether great or small, ancient or recent," he said in his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message.

Francis, marking the second Easter season of his pontificate, celebrated a Mass to an overflowing crowd of at least 150,000 in St. Peter's Square and beyond.

The crowd stretched back along all of Via della Conciliazione, the boulevard between the Vatican and the Tiber River.

Speaking under a sunny sky after a midnight rainstorm soaked the tens of thousands of flowers that bedecked the square, Francis weaved his message around the suffering of people across the globe.

He prayed to God to "help us to overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible".

Since his election as the first non-European pope in 1,300 years, Francis had made defense of the poor a hallmark of his papacy, often criticizing developed nations and the excesses of capitalism and consumerism.

The 77-year-old pope, wearing white vestments for the service, prayed for the protection of those members of society who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and abandonment - women, children, the elderly and immigrants.   Continued...

Pope Francis waves as he arrives to deliver the Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) benediction at the end of the Easter Mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican April 20, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile