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Pope Francis calls for reduction or forgiveness of poor nations' debt

  • Pope calls for reduction or forgiveness of poor nations' debt
    Pope calls for solidarity in Easter message amid virus lockdown Pope calls for reduction or forgiveness of poor nations' debt

Pope Francis appealed for “an immediate global ceasefire” in all armed conflicts, as well as for the relaxing of sanctions and the reduction or forgiveness of the debt of poor countries. He urged an all-out effort to care for those who lack the basic necessities of life, including refugees and migrants.

 

Pope Francis issued a powerful and passionate appeal to political rulers and people everywhere in his yearly Easter message, “Urbi et Orbi” (“to the city of Rome and to the world”), saying “this is not a time for indifference because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic.”

He called on the nations of the world to overcome “indifference, self-centeredness, division and forgetfulness,” saying “these are not words that we want to hear at this time.” He appealed for “an immediate global ceasefire” in all armed conflicts, as well as for the relaxing of sanctions and the reduction or forgiveness of the debt of poor countries. He urged an all-out effort to care for those who lack the basic necessities of life, including refugees and migrants.

Pontiff calls for solidarity across the world to confront the 'epochal challenge' posed by the coranavirus pandemic.

Pope Francis has called for solidarity across the world to confront the "epochal challenge" posed by the coronavirus pandemic, in his traditional Easter address on Sunday.

"The European Union is presently facing an epochal challenge, on which will depend not only its future but that of the whole world," said the 83-year-old pontiff addressing the world's 1.3 billion Catholics from an empty Saint Paul's Cathedral at a ceremony attended by just a handful of priests.

Pope Francis broke with centuries of tradition to livestream Easter Sunday mass to those suffering in the solitude of a coronavirus lockdown that forced the world's Catholics to improvise on their holiest day.

He recalled that Europe rose again after World War II, "thanks to a concrete spirit of solidarity that enabled it to overcome the rivalries of the past."

"This is not a time for self-centredness, because the challenge we are facing is shared by all, without distinguishing between persons," he said.

The pope urged political leaders, in particular, to give hope and opportunity to laid-off workers, and called for sanctions relief, debt forgiveness and ceasefires to calm conflicts and financial crises around the globe.

He also offered thanks and encouragement to doctors and nurses who have worked "to the point of exhaustion and not infrequently at the expense of their own health".

On Saturday, Pope Francis led an Easter eve mass in an empty St Peter's Basilica, and urged people to "not yield to fear" and focus on a "message of hope".

The vigil, which normally takes place in a church packed with about 10,000 people, was closed to the public and attended by only about two dozen, including a few altar servers and a smaller-than-usual choir.

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, it was scaled back to eliminate several traditional features, such as the baptism of adult converts and a long procession up the main aisle of Christendom's largest church.

"Darkness and death do not have the last word," the pontiff said, referring to the outbreak. 

"Over these weeks, we have kept repeating, 'All will be well', clinging to the beauty of our humanity and allowing words of encouragement to rise up from our hearts. But as the days go by and fears grow, even the boldest hope can dissipate.

"Let us not give in to resignation ... We can and must hope," Francis added at the vigil, which was livestreamed.