Vatican City: Pope Francis, during a scaled-back Easter Mass for the second year in a row Sunday, condemned “scandalous” armed conflicts as the coronavirus “pandemic is still spreading.”
Francis led the service in St. Peter’s Basilica secondary altar among safety protocols rather than outside among thousands of faithful at St. Peter’s Square. Italy is in the midst of a lockdown.
“Dear brothers and sisters, once again this year, in various places many Christians have celebrated Easter under severe restrictions and, at times, without being able to attend liturgical celebrations,” Francis said during his urbi et oribi message. “We pray that those restrictions, as well as all restrictions on freedom of worship and religion worldwide, may be lifted and everyone be allowed to pray and praise God freely.”
Saturday night’s service began two hours earlier than usual so it would end before Rome’s 10 p.m. curfew.
“The Easter message does not offer us a mirage or reveal a magic formula,” the pontiff said Sunday. ” It does not point to an escape from the difficult situation we are experiencing. The pandemic is still spreading, while the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for the poor.”
He added: “Nonetheless – and this is scandalous — armed conflicts have not ended and military arsenals are being strengthened. That is today’s scandal.”