Pope Celebrates Easter Mass Under Tight Security

In this handout picture released by the Vatican press office, Pope Francis delivers the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing to the city and to the world from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica after the Easter Sunday Mass on April 1, 2018, in Vatican. PHOTO / VATICAN MEDIA / AFP


Pope Francis celebrated Easter mass under tight security and a sunny sky on Sunday in front of tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in a flower-bedecked St Peter’s Square.

Under a longstanding tradition, the Netherlands donated some 50,000 tulips, daffodils, roses and orchids for the occasion.

Access to the famous square for the mass on the holiest day in the Christian calendar, marking Jesus’s resurrection, was tightly controlled.

Tourists and clergy alike formed long queues to have their belongings checked and pass through metal detectors.

“Rome is the centre of the Catholic faith,” anti-terror prosecutor Federico Cafiero de Raho said Saturday.

“For those who believe in the radical form of holy war, Rome represents so many things put together — there’s the pope, the Vatican…”

Italian authorities are concerned that some of the estimated 120 radicalised Italians who left for Syria or Iraq to fight with jihadist groups could be returning to the country posing as migrants.

Last week saw a wave of anti-terror arrests, with Interior Minister Marco Minniti warning of a high risk of an attack.

At noon (1000 GMT), the pope is to deliver his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and the World) address from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica.

The head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics is expected to touch on many of the world’s conflicts and woes in the speech carried by news media around the globe.

On Good Friday, Francis said he was “ashamed” that younger generations would inherit a world “fractured by divisions and wars”.


Christians Globally Celebrate Easter Sunday  

Easter SundayChristians worldwide are celebrating Easter Sunday, a festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

It is described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by Romans at Calvary.

According to the gospel of John in the New Testament, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb where Jesus was buried and found it empty, and an angel told her that Jesus had risen.

Easter is the culmination of the passion of Christ, preceded by Lent (or Great Lent), a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.

The week before Easter is called holy week, and it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday, commemorating the last supper, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

The Pope has also delivered his traditional Easter message in Rome, with a scathing condemnation of those who fail to help migrants.

Pope Francis said migrants often met “rejection from those who could offer them welcome and assistance”.

He also condemned terrorism as “a blind and brutal violence” that should be fought with “weapons of love”.

Clergymen at the various worship centres in Nigeria, in their various sermons, sued for ‎peaceful coexistence among citizens and emphasised living in love and humility between the rulers and the ruled.

They urged the leaders to embrace the virtues of sacrifice and tolerance in governance, stressing that the welfare of the people should be their priority.

Pope’s Easter Message Condemns Failure To Help Migrants

PopeThe Pope has delivered his traditional Easter message in Rome, with a scathing condemnation of those who fail to help migrants.

Pope Francis said migrants often met “rejection from those who could offer them welcome and assistance”.

He also condemned terrorism as “a blind and brutal violence” that should be fought with “weapons of love”.

The Pope was delivering his “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) message to thousands amid tight security in St Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis also offered a prayer for Syria, and expressed his hope for success at peace talks scheduled to resume next month.

He also spoke of recent attacks in Belgium, Turkey, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, and Iraq

The latest terror attack in Brussels the Belgian capital on Tuesday left 28 people dead.

Many pilgrims cancelled their planned trips to Rome in the wake of the violence in Brussels, but the square was packed on Sunday, as was St Peter’s Basilica when Pope Francis celebrated mass on Saturday evening.

Pope Francis Easter Message

Pope-FrancisPope Francis has prayed for an end to the torment of Christians, commemorating the students murdered by Islamist militants at Garissa University in Kenya.

Celebrating the third Easter of his pontificate, Pope Francis spoke from the central balcony in a drizzling St. Peter’s Square after saying a Mass for tens of thousands of people wearing plastic ponchos and holding umbrellas.

Pope Francis in his message, said “We ask Jesus, the Victor over death, to lighten the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted for His name, and of all those who suffer injustice as a result of ongoing conflicts and violence – and there are many”.

Attacks on Christians in Africa and the Middle East have been the unattractive backdrop of all Holy Week ceremonies leading up to Easter.

He commemorated the students massacred by Islamist militants at Garissa University in Kenya.

In Libya, where Islamic State (IS) militants beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians last February, he called for peace and also for an end to “the present absurd bloodshed and all barbarous acts of violence”.

He further prayed for peace in Iraq and Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, and Nigeria, where Boko Haram had also launched attacks on Christian churches.

“We ask for peace and freedom for the many men and women subject to old and new forms of enslavement on the part of criminal individuals and groups.

“Peace and liberty for the victims of drug dealers, who are often allied with the powers who ought to defend peace and harmony in the human family.

“We ask peace for this world subjected to arms dealers, who make their money from the blood of men and women,” he said.

Just about the only positive part in the pope’s address was a reference to the deal reached in Switzerland last week between Iran and the international community on a framework for a nuclear accord.

Referencing the deal reached in Switzerland last week between Iran and the international community on a framework for a nuclear accord, Pope Francis said “In hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step towards a more secure and fraternal world”.

Pope urges end to Boko Haram killings

Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday prayed for “concord in Nigeria”,as he lamented the “savage acts of terrorism” that frequently target Christian churches in Nigeria, during his traditional Christmas message.

The Islamist extremist group Boko Haram has often targeted churches in its bloody insurgency against the Nigerian government killing about 3,000 people since 2009 when the insurgency started.

The violence is now worsened with the emergence of another terror group, the Ansaru that claimed to have kidnapped French engineer, Frances Colump, in Rimi Katsina, Katsina State last week.

Pope Benedict also called for an “end to the bloodshed” and “a political solution” in conflict-wracked Syria in a traditional Christmas message that touched on several other of the world’s conflict zones.

“There is hope in the world … even at the most difficult times and in the most difficult situations,” he said, praying that “peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict which does not spare even the defenceless and reaps innocent victims.”

More than 44,000 people have been killed in Syria since the outbreak in March 2011 of an anti-regime revolt that became a bloody insurgency after a brutal crackdown, a rights group said last week.

The Pope’s annual “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and the World) message, heard by some 40,000 pilgrims in St Peter’s Square, also pointed to hotspots across Africa and urged religious freedom in China, and as usual called for peace in the Middle East.

The Pope prayed for “help and comfort to the refugees from the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” where a rebel campaign caused tens of thousands to flee their homes, and peace in Kenya, “where brutal attacks have struck the civilian population and places of worship”.

He also urged peace in Mali, where Islamist insurgents have occupied large swathes of the desert north since a March coup.

He also prayed for “Israelis and Palestinians (to be granted the) courage to end long years of conflict and division, and to embark resolutely on the path of negotiation.”

Turning to China, the German Pope called on the new leadership to “esteem the contributions of the religions.”

Speaking of “the high task that awaits them,” the Pontiff said he hoped the new leaders unveiled in November would “help build a fraternal society for that noble people and of the whole world.”

China and the Vatican severed diplomatic ties in 1951 after the latter recognised the Nationalist Chinese government in Taipei, a rival to the communist regime in Beijing.

Although Beijing and the Vatican have improved relations in recent years as China’s Catholic population has grown, they remain at odds over which side has the authority to ordain priests.

About 5.7 million Chinese belong to the state-run Catholic Church, according to official figures. Independent estimates say 12 million Chinese Catholics worship in unauthorised churches and are loyal to the pope.