in his Easter message, Pope Francis has urged countries to speed up distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, particularly to the world’s poor, and called armed conflict and military spending during a pandemic “scandalous”. Source: SBS News.
Coronavirus has meant this has been the second year in a row that Easter papal services have been attended by small gatherings at a secondary altar of St Peter’s Basilica, instead of by crowds in the church or in the square outside.
After saying Mass on Sunday, Pope Francis read his Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) message, in which he traditionally reviews world problems and appeals for peace.
“The pandemic is still spreading, while the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for the poor. Nonetheless – and this is scandalous – armed conflicts have not ended and military arsenals are being strengthened,” he said.
Pope Francis, who would usually 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 broadcast to tens of millions around the world.
The square was empty except for a few police officers enforcing a strict three-day national lockdown.
The Pope asked God to comfort the sick, those who have lost a loved one, and the unemployed, urging authorities to give families in greatest need a “decent sustenance”.
“I urge the entire international community, in a spirit of global responsibility, to commit to overcoming delays in the distribution of vaccines and to facilitate their distribution, especially in the poorest countries,” he said.