New York News: Pope Francis is celebrating his first Easter Sunday Mass as p Peter’s Square,
Tens of thousands of faithful hfilled the square hours before the Mass began in mid-morning.
Pope Francis bowed his head in reflection as the Gospel was sung in Latin, recounting what Christians believe is the central mystery of their faith – the resurrection of Jesus after his death by crucifixion.
A white canopy sheltered the altar on the steps. After heavy rain battered Rome during the night, more was forecast. But Sunday saw sunny skies alternate with clouds.
Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday peace plea, saying conflicts have lasted too long in Syria, and between Israelis and Palestinians. He also urged reconciliation on the Korean peninsula, where North Korea says it has entered “a state of war” with South Korea.
Before a crowd of 250,000 in St Peter’s Square he also denounced warfare and terrorism in Africa, and decried a greedy affluent world looking for “easy gain”.
After the Mass in St Peter’s Square, Francis shared in the crowd’s exuberance as they celebrated the belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead following crucifixion. Aboard an open-topped popemobile, Francis took a lighthearted spin through the joyous gatherers, kissing babies and patting children on the head.
One admirer of the pope and his favourite soccer team, Argentina’s Saints of San Lorenzo, insisted that Francis take a team jersey he was waving at the pontiff. A delighted Francis obliged, briefly holding up the shirt.
Since the start of his papacy on March 13, Francis has repeatedly put his concern for the poor and suffering at the centre of his messages, and the Easter speech he delivered from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica reflected his push for peace and social justice.
He said he wished a “Happy Easter” greeting could reach “every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons.” Francis prayed that Christ would help people “change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace”.