VATICAN CITY -
Hours after explosions at Sri Lankan churches and hotels left dozens dead and hundreds more injured, Pope Francis prayed for the victims during his annual Easter message at the Vatican.
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“I wish to express my heartfelt closeness to the Christian community [of Sri Lanka], wounded as it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence,” Francis told the crowd in St. Peter’s Square, according to Vatican News.
He later added: “I entrust to the Lord all those who have tragically perished, and I pray for the injured and all those who suffer as a result of this tragic event.”
Every year after leading Easter Mass, the pope delivers an “Urbi et Orbi” (“to the city and the world”) message, which addresses global issues and conflicts.
Earlier in his speech, Francis urged political leaders to “work to end social injustices, abuses and acts of violence” in Venezuela. He also called for leaders to work toward peace in the Middle East, “beginning with the Israelis and Palestinians.”
Additionally, the pope put a spotlight on the plight of the Syrian people, as well as conflicts in eastern Ukraine and several African countries.
Finally, Francis condemned the “roar of arms” and encouraged people to build “bridges, not walls,” Vatican News reported.
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