On one of the most important days of the year for the Catholic church, Pope Francis took to the pulpit with an urgent message. On Sunday, in his Easter remarks, the Pope focused on Brussels, which is still reeling from the terror attacks that took place in the capital city early last week. Pope Francis called for new kinds of weapons with which to fight the war against terror — the "weapons of love."
The Pope delivered an Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square, surrounded by tens of thousands of people who'd passed through tight security to be there. After the mass, he gave his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" message (aka "To the City and the World"), saying, according to NBC News, "May he (the risen Jesus) draw us closer on this Easter feast to the victims of terrorism, that blind and brutal form of violence which continues to shed blood in different parts of the world."
Pope Francis also expressed his belief that his fellow Roman Catholics could channel the hope of Easter in order to defeat the evil that led to such vicious attacks. And though he gave special weight to Brussels, he did not forget countries like Turkey, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Iraq, which have also been rocked by violence in recent months.
Pope Francis also spoke of the current refugee crisis, saying, according to The Guardian, that Easter “invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees — including many children — fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice." He chastised those who rejected their "brothers and sisters" when they could have offered assistance, and lamented that so many refugees have died on their journeys to better lives. Pope Francis has been an outspoken advocate for these migrants before. Earlier this week, he washed and kissed the feet of refugees, both Christian and not, in a moving gesture of support for their plight.
The night before Easter, the Pope delivered a homily at an Easter vigil in St. Peter's Basilica. He called for the faithful to cast aside the pessimism that can "imprison" them, saying that the resurrection of Christ celebrated at Easter "awakens and resurrects hope in hearts burdened by sadness.” It was a timely message, coming on the heels of the Brussels attacks, in which 28 people were killed and over 300 more were injured by bombs detonated at an airport and a Metro station, leaving many Europeans shaken and heartbroken.
Hopefully, regardless of religion, people everywhere are able to take Pope Francis's remarks to heart, moving forward into a sometimes-terrifying world armed with love and compassion.