'We need Christ more than ever': Pope Francis calls for peace around the world in Easter address

'We need Christ more than ever': Pope Francis calls for peace around the world in Easter address

POPE FRANCIS used his Easter message to call for peace around the world as he addressed 100,000 pilgrims in St Peter's Square.

This year's Easter celebrations at the Vatican included the participation of large numbers of faithful following two years of restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In his Easter Urbi ei Orbi message today, the Pope said he understood people questioning their faith as conflicts rage around the world following two years of the pandemic.

However, he said that such times are when Christians need Christ most.

"We have seen all too much blood, all too much violence," said the Pope.

"Our hearts, too, have been filled with fear and anguish, as so many of our brothers and sisters have had to lock themselves away in order to be safe from bombing.

Around 100,000 people gathered in Peter's Square on Sunday (Image: Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

"We struggle to believe that Jesus is truly risen, that he has truly triumphed over death.

"Could it be an illusion? A figment of our imagination?

"No, it is not an illusion! Today, more than ever, we hear echoing the Easter proclamation so dear to the Christian East: 'Christ is risen! He is truly risen!'

"Today, more than ever, we need him, at the end of a Lent that has seemed endless.

"We emerged from two years of pandemic, which took a heavy toll.

"It was time to come out of the tunnel together, hand in hand, pooling our strengths and resources."

'Encouraging signs'

Addressing the 'cruel and senseless' war in Ukraine, the Pontiff said he hoped for an end to the conflict, in which innocent people are suffering while those responsible 'flex their muscles'.

However, the Pope added that despite the horrors of conflict, the solidarity shown with those fleeing war gave him hope.

"May there be peace for war-torn Ukraine, so sorely tried by the violence and destruction of the cruel and senseless war into which it was dragged," he said.

"In this terrible night of suffering and death, may a new dawn of hope soon appear!"

He added: "Amid the pain of the war, there are also encouraging signs, such as the open doors of all those families and communities that are welcoming migrants and refugees throughout Europe.

Pope Francis blesses the faithful at the start of the Easter Mass in St Peter's Square on Sunday (Image: Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

"May these numerous acts of charity become a blessing for our societies, at times debased by selfishness and individualism, and help to make them welcoming to all."

While the war in Ukraine has dominated the headlines, the Pontiff added that he wished to see an end to all conflicts, including in Yemen, 'which suffers from a conflict forgotten by all, with continuous victims'.

He also called for peace in the Middle East, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Libya and across Africa as he concluded by warning of the wider implications of conflicts.

"Dear brothers and sisters, every war brings in its wake consequences that affect the entire human family: from grief and mourning to the drama of refugees, and to the economic and food crisis, the signs of which we are already seeing," he said.

"Faced with the continuing signs of war, as well as the many painful setbacks to life, Jesus Christ, the victor over sin, fear and death, exhorts us not to surrender to evil and violence."