Pope Francis gave his first Easter message Sunday, pleading for resolutions in the ongoing conflicts and tensions in Syria, the Korean peninsula, and Mali.
The Pontiff did not shy away from the continued tensions between Israel and Palestine, pleading with representatives from both sides to end “a conflict that has lasted all too long.”
“We implore peace for all the world,” Pope Francis said in St. Peter’s Square before a crowd of the faithful . “Peace for the Middle East, and particularly between Israelis and Palestinians…and above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort.”
The pope remained true to his past commitment to social justice in his remarks, touching on the destructive effects of poverty and greed across the globe and decrying human trafficking as “the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century.” He also made brief mention of the need to conserve natural resources, speaking against the “selfishness which threatens human life and the family.”
Since his election on March 13, Pope Francis has broken with church traditions that separate and elevate the pontiff from those he oversees. In keeping with his dedication to remaining connected to poor, Pope Francis traveled to a youth detention center on Holy Thursday and washed the feet of two Muslim men as well as two young women. This was a break from longstanding customs; previous popes have performed their Holy Thursday rituals at the Vatican’s main cathedral and excluded women.