Pope Francis denounced “oppressive regimes” in his Easter message on Sunday but in an apparent call for restraint urged world leaders to prevent the spread of conflicts, as tensions rose in North Korea and Syria.
Francis, marking the fifth Easter season of his pontificate, said Mass before tens of thousands of people under exceptional security measures in St. Peter’s Square following recent vehicle attacks against pedestrians in London and Stockholm.
More police vans and army vehicles than usual were positioned at the entrances to the Vatican area and the faithful were stopped at several check points leading into the square, which was decorated with 35,000 flowers and trees.
In his Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) message, delivered from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis spoke of a world lacerated by conflicts and laced with tensions.
From the same balcony from where he first appeared to the world on the night of his election in 2013, Francis spoke of God walking “beside all those forced to leave their homelands as a result of armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, famine and oppressive regimes”.