Pope urges world to unite to face a pandemic


Vatican City

Pope Francis dedicated his Easter Sunday message to everyone affected by the coronavirus pandemic saying "the whole world is suffering and must be united to face it".

From an empty St Peter's Basilica, with no banner hanging from the balcony and no faithful in the square due to Italy's lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, Francis on Sunday delivered his Easter message.

"For many, this is an Easter of solitude, lived amid the sorrow and hardship that the pandemic is causing, from physical suffering to economic difficulties," he said.

After a sober Easter Mass, millions of people tuned in to watch the pontiff deliver the traditional Easter Urbi et Orbi blessing to the world where he urged the faithful to come together against indifference, self-centeredness, division, and forgetfulness.

"Indifference, self-centredness, division and forgetfulness are not words we want to hear at this time," Francis said.

The pontiff called his message a "contagion of hope" to be transmitted from heart to heart.

He remembered the elderly and people who were facing the pandemic alone.

He praised those "who work diligently to guarantee the essential services necessary for civil society, and to the law enforcement and military personnel who in many countries have helped ease people's difficulties and sufferings".

For many who have been forced to stay at home due to isolation measures, the Pope said it had provided an occasion for reflection and an opportunity to pause from life's frenetic pace to enjoy the company of loved ones.

The Pope also called for "an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world" and called for a solution to ongoing conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.

Francis urged for international sanctions on countries affected by the pandemic to be relaxed and for debt in the poorest regions to be reduced or cleared.

The pontiff spoke of Europe, which has been at the heart of the pandemic, and said that it had been able "to overcome the rivalries of the past" after World War II "thanks to a concrete spirit of solidarity".

Francis urged people not to forget there were many suffering in terrible conditions in Libya and on the border between Greece and Turkey.

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