Pope Francis delivered an Easter speech in a ceremony on Sunday in St. Peter’s Basilica

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Pope Francis delivered an Easter blessing and speech in a scaled-back ceremony on Sunday. The event was held in St. Peter’s Basilica with notably fewer people in attendance than before the pandemic, limited to 200 masked people. The pope spoke at an Easter vigil. The event started early in accordance with Italy’s 10 p.m. curfew. “Everyone requires assistance and has the right to have access to necessary care,” the Pope said, repeating his call for broad access to COVID-19 vaccines across the world, insisting for the poorest countries. He asked God to comfort the sick, those who have lost a loved one, and the unemployed, urging authorities to give families in greatest need a “decent sustenance”. “This is even more evident in these times where all of us are called to combat the pandemic, and vaccines are an essential tool in this fight,” he added.

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The Pope made also an appeal for peace. He has called for disarmament and a total ban on the possession of nuclear weapons. “There are still too many wars and too much violence in the world! May the Lord, who is our peace, help us to overcome the mindset of war.” Mentioning conflict areas, he singled out for praise “the young people of Myanmar committed to supporting democracy and making their voices heard peacefully”. He called for peace in several conflict areas in Africa, including the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia and the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique. The Pope also appealed to Israelis and Palestinians to “rediscover the power of dialogue” to reach a two-state solution where both can live side by side in peace and prosperity. People were singing choruses of “Hallelujah” through face coverings.