Pope urges faster vaccine distribution, slams fighting during pandemic in Easter address

VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis in his Easter message on Sunday called on countries to accelerate the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, particularly to the world’s poor, calling armed conflict and military spending during a pandemic “scandalous”.

Coronavirus means that this was the second year in a row that papal Easter services were attended by small gatherings at a secondary altar in St.

After the mass, Francis read his message “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world), in which he traditionally discusses the problems of the world and calls for peace.

“The pandemic is still spreading, while the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for the poor. Nevertheless, and this is a scandal, armed conflicts have not ended and the military arsenals are being strengthened, ”he said.

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Francis, who would normally have given the address to up to 100,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, spoke to fewer than 200 in the church while the message was sent to tens of millions of people around the world.

The square was empty except for a few police officers who enforced a strict three-day national lockdown.

The Pope asked God to comfort the sick, those who have lost loved ones, and the unemployed, and urged the authorities to provide “decent livelihoods” to families in dire need.

He praised the medical staff, sympathized with young people who couldn’t go to school, and said everyone was called to fight the pandemic.

“I urge the entire international community to commit, in a spirit of global responsibility, to overcoming delays in the distribution of vaccines and facilitating their distribution, especially in the poorest countries,” he said.

Francis, who has often called for disarmament and a total ban on the possession of nuclear weapons, said: “There are still too many wars and too much violence in the world! May the Lord who is our peace help us overcome the mindset of war. “

When he found it was International Anti-Personnel Landmines Awareness Day, he called such weapons “insidious and terrible devices … how much better our world would be without these instruments of death!”

When mentioning conflict areas, he praised “the young people in Myanmar who stand up for support for democracy and the peaceful hearing of their voices”. More than 550 protesters have been killed in Myanmar since a February 1 military coup that the Pope visited in 2017.

On Sunday, opponents of the coup wrote protest messages on Easter eggs.

Francis called for peace in several conflict areas in Africa, including the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia and the Cabo Delgado province Mozambique. He said the crisis in Yemen had “met with a deafening and scandalous silence”.

He appealed to Israelis and Palestinians to “rediscover the power of dialogue” in order to achieve a two-state solution in which both can live side by side in peace and prosperity.

Francis said he recognized that many Christians are still being persecuted and called for all restrictions on freedom of religion and belief worldwide to be lifted.

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