In his Easter Sunday message, Pope Francis decried the “latest vile” attack on civilians in Syria.
Both in his impromptu homily during Mass in St Peter’s Square and later in his formal Urbi et Orbi Easter message delivered from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica, Francis reflected on a litany of suffering in the world, including wars, oppressive regimes, human trafficking, corruption, famine and domestic violence.
He encouraged people to hold fast in their “fearful hearts” to faith, acknowledging that many people wonder where God is amid so much evil and suffering in the world.
In his balcony address, Francis prayed that God would sustain those working to comfort and help the civilian population in Syria, “prey to a war that continues to sow horror and death.”
He cited the explosion Saturday that ripped through a bus depot in the Aleppo area where evacuees were awaiting transfer, killing at least 100 people.
“Yesterday saw the latest vile attack on fleeing refugees,” the Pope said, also praying for peace in the Holy Land, Iraq and Yemen.
Some 60,000 people, including multi-national throngs of pilgrims and tourists, went through tight anti-terrorism security checks — and, later, a brief downpour — to hear Francis and receive his blessing.
The crowd size, cited by the Vatican security forces, was smaller in comparison to some other Easters, when about 100,000 turned out for the occasion.