Pope celebrates Easter Sunday Mass in Rome Square

Pope celebrates Easter Sunday Mass in Rome Square

Pope Francis celebrated Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square for the first time since the coronaviruses epidemic, making Christianity's most joyous day at a time when the war in Ukraine has weighed heavily on his heart.

Francis made an enguished plea for peace in the senseless war in Ukraine and other armed conflicts in the world, and cited the troubling risk of nuclear warfare.

May there be peace for the war-torn Ukraine, so desperately tried by the violence and destruction of this cruel and senseless war into which it was dragged, Francis said, speaking from the central balcony of St Peter's Square.

The Pontiff, 85, had just finished celebrating Easter Mass in the square packed by faithful for the first time since the pandemic began in early 2020.

Many of the 50,000 people on the square and in a nearby avenue erupted applause when he mentioned Ukraine.

Francis got aboard a white popemobile for a whirl through the square to greet cheering well-wishers among the rank- and-file faithful after the end of Mass.

In London, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby called for Russia to declare a cease-fire and withdraw from Ukraine. The leader of the Anglican church said Easter was a time for peace and not blood and iron. In the Eastern Orthodox Church in Russia and Ukraine Sunday marked the beginning of Holy Week, welby exhorted Russia to withdraw from Ukraine and commit to talks.

Welby condemned the British government's plan to send some asylum-seekers to Rwanda in an unusually blunt political remark.

The easing of many mandatory outdoor mask requirements in Italy has resulted in a tourism boom in Rome, with many visitors flooding the city for Holy Week ceremonies that culminated on Easter, because of warm weather and the easing of many pandemic restrictions.

In Spain, believers and secular enthusiasts flocked back in large numbers to Holy Week processions this week for the first time since the start of the epidemic, after most health restrictions were lifted.