Mar 31, 2024 - World

Pope Francis calls for Gaza ceasefire in Easter address

Pope Francis wearing a big hat speaking into a microphone

Pope Francis speaks during Easter Mass. Photo: Vatican Media via Getty Images

Pope Francis called for a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of Israeli hostages during his traditional Easter address on Sunday.

The big picture: Francis, 87, presided over Easter Mass despite health issues that have forced him to curtail his public appearances.

What he's saying: "I appeal once again that access to humanitarian aid be ensured to Gaza, and call once more for the prompt release of the hostages seized on last October 7 and for an immediate ceasefire in the Strip," Francis said.

  • "How much suffering we see in the eyes of children, the children have forgotten to smile in those war zones. With their eyes, children ask us: Why? Why all this death? Why all this destruction? War is always an absurdity and a defeat," he continued, per Reuters.
  • Francis also called for a "general exchange of all prisoners between Russia and Ukraine."
Pope from distance on balcony
Pope Francis' Easter address from St. Peter's Basilica. Photo: Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis via Getty
  • The pope referred to the stone the Bible says had blocked Jesus' tomb after his crucifixion, and said "great stones" — among them human trafficking, humanitarian crises and human rights violations — "block the hopes of humanity."

State of play: Francis has been hospitalized within the past year with bronchitis and after undergoing hernia surgery, and has reduced his schedule this winter due to respiratory issues.

Pope francis
Photo: Isabella Bonotto/Anadolu via Getty
  • He took part in multiple events leading up to Easter, and made a prolonged tour around St. Peter's Square in the Popemobile on Sunday.

Go deeper: International court orders Israel to do more to prevent famine in Gaza

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