Pope urges action on ‘unfolding humanitarian tragedies’ in Libya, Middle East

In traditional Easter morning address, Pope Francis urges Catholic faithful to embrace humility and curb arrogance, and urges international community not to stand by unfolding humanitarian tragedies.

Pope Francis greets the Catholic faithful prior to his Urbi et Orbi address. Photo: Getty Images
Pope Francis greets the Catholic faithful prior to his Urbi et Orbi address. Photo: Getty Images

Pope Francis has urged  the international community not to stand by in the face of unfolding humanitarian tragedies in war torn zones, and amidst his calls for peace in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, the pontiff called on rival factions to resume peace talks.

Delivering the traditional Urbi et Orbi (to the City and the World) to the Catholic faithful at St Peter’s Square in the Vatican, the head of the Catholic Church urged the international community to address the “immense humanitarian tragedies” that are unfolding in war-torn countries and “the drama of the numerous refugees.”

“We pray for the present absurd bloodshed and barbaric acts of violence in Libya to cease and for all those concerned in the peace and the future of the country to favour reconciliation, and to build a society for the future generations,” the pontiff said.

“We ask for peace in Syria and Iraq, that the roar of arms may cease and that peaceful relations may be restored among the various groups.”

Francis also called for peace in the Holy Land, and urged the Catholic faithful to pray for peace talks to resume between Israel and Palestine. The Pope also “implored peace” in Ukraine, Yemen, Nigeria, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“May the Lord bring light to Ukraine, especially those who have endured violence in recent months, and may the country recover peace and hope through the commitment of all the parties involved,” he said.

The Pope also prayed for an end to persecution of many Christians and the students massacred by Islamist militants. Francis – who in the past has voiced increasing alarm about the attacks – said thoughts and prayers were with the 148 people that were killed in last Thursday’s massacre at a university in Kenya.

The declaration comes hours after he denounced the indifference and the “complicit silence” of the international community before the massacres of Christians at the hands of Islamist extremists.

“May constant prayer rise up from all people of goodwill for those who lost their lives (students)...and for those who have been kidnapped and for those forced to abandon their homes and their dear ones.”

“We ask Jesus to lighten the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted for his name, and of all those who suffer injustice as a result of ongoing conflicts and violence.”

‘Embrace humility as a strength, not a weakness’ – Pope Francis

Addressing the 50,000 crowd packed in St Peter’s Square, the Pope – who has been noted for his humility, and his commitment to connect the Catholic church with other religious beliefs -  called on the Catholic faithful to embrace humility and humanity as a “strength and not a weakness.”

He acknowledged that the general inclination is to move forward and to compete at all costs, but this, he warned, should not be carried out at the expense of others.

Conversely, he said, “Christians must learn to live with each other and by appreciating the service of one another.” This he said is achieved through humanity and humility, and not arrogance.

He explained that at present, the world is willing to move forward and compete at all costs, but argued that Christians must learn to live in the service of one another, not by being arrogant, but through humanity and humility.

“This is not weakness but a true strength. Those who believe in Jesus do not need to resort to violence, but only need to speak with the power of truth and love. Have the humble courage of pardon and peace,” he said.

On the agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme – which amongst others agreed to curb the Iranian nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of sanctions – the Pope expressed hope that it might be “a definite step toward a more secure and fraternal world.”

The Pope concluded his address by asking for the peace and freedom of the “many men and women subject to old and new forms of enslavement on the part of criminal individuals and groups.”

“We ask for peace and liberty for the victims of drug dealers, who are often allied with the powers who ought to defend peace and harmony within the human family. We ask peace for arms traffickers who earn a profit at the blood of men and women, and liberty to the marginalised, prisoners, the poor and the migrants who are rejected, and to the sick and the suffering,” he added.