In his Easter speech on March 27, Pope Francis called for mercy and global peace, drawing attention toward the recent terrorist attacks in Brussels, as well as the conflict in Syria and tensions between Israel and Palestine.
The pope's traditional "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) Easter address, delivered from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, touched on themes of peace in world conflicts and compassion for refugees from war-torn countries, according to Religion News. The pontiff told listeners to think of the victims of the "blind and brutal violence" in the March 22 Brussels bombings.
Pope Francis emphasized mercy throughout his speech, telling his audience that "weapons of love" were the key to fighting global conflicts and hatred.
"The Lord Jesus by his resurrection triumphed over evil and sin," said the pope. "May he draw us closer on this Easter feast to the victims of terrorism, that blind and brutal form of violence which continues to shed innocent blood in different parts of the world, as in recent attacks in Belgium, Turkey, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and the Ivory Coast."
In his speech, the pontiff also called for an end to fighting in Syria, referring to the conflict's "destruction, death, contempt for humanitarian law and breakdown of civil coexistence." He also expressed his wish for peace between Israel and Palestine, calling for "direct and sincere negotiations" between them.
Francis' March 25 Good Friday prayers also called for compassion for refugees, criticizing what he called Europe's "indifferent and anesthetized conscience," The Guardian reports. The pope washed and kissed the feet of refugees, including Muslim refugees, earlier on Good Friday, in a gesture of kindness toward those who have suffered from the rise of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric after recent terrorist attacks and other incidents in Europe.
The pope's Good Friday prayers also criticized Catholic priests who sexually abused children, arms dealers with little or no restriction on who may buy from them, and religiously motivated terrorists.
"O Cross of Christ, today we see you in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas which have become insatiable cemeteries, reflections of our indifferent and anesthetized conscience," said Francis in his prayer, referring to refugees who died at sea trying to reach Greece and other parts of Europe.