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Pope Urges End to Carnage in Syria, Calls for Reconciliation in Middle East

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Pope Francis delivers the Urbi et Orbi (to the city and to the world) blessing at the end of the Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Apr. 1, 2018. VOA
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In his Easter message, Pope Francis called for peace in a world marked by war and conflict. Addressing tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square from the central balcony of the basilica, the pope called for an end to “carnage” in the long-suffering land of Syria and “reconciliation” in the Middle East.

Francis’ appeal for peace came in his Urbi et Orbi message after having celebrated Easter mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica. He said the message of the resurrection offers hope in a world “marked by so many acts of injustice and violence”.

The pope begged for peace for “the entire world, beginning with the beloved and long-suffering land of Syria, whose people are worn down by an apparently endless war.”

“This Easter,” the pope said, “may the light of the risen Christ illuminate the consciences of all political and military leaders, so that a swift end may be brought to the carnage”.

Francis demanded that aid be delivered to the needy in the war-torn country and called for “fitting conditions for the return of the displaced.”

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Pope Francis acknowledges pilgrims while delivering the Urbi et Orbi blessing at the end of the Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, April 1, 2018. VOA

The pope also urged reconciliation in Israel, a place “experiencing in these days the wounds of ongoing conflict that do not spare the defenseless.” His words followed the Friday deaths of 15 Palestinian protesters on the Israeli-Gaza border two days before Easter Sunday.

ALSO READ: Bangladesh gets its first Catholic Cardinal: Pope Francis names 17 Archbishops as new Cardinals

Turning his thoughts to Africa, the pope also called for peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Let us not forget the victims of that conflict”, the pope said, “especially the children! May there be no lack of solidarity with all those forced to abandon their native lands and lacking the bare essentials for living.”
The world’s first Latin American pope also urged international assistance for Venezuela, so that more people would not have to abandon their homeland because of the economic and political crisis.

Finally, Francis also expressed the hope that the “fruits of dialogue” would advance peace and harmony on the Korean peninsula, where the two sides are set to hold their first summit in more than a decade on April 27.

Easter is Christianity’s “moveable feast,” falling on a different date each year. Western Christian churches celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox.

This year, Eastern Orthodox Churches, which include Jewish Passover in their calculation of Easter dates, celebrate the holiday next Sunday, April 8. VOA

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The Church And Priests Should Go Online: Vatican Experts

We had to learn to listen to younger people who live in that [digital] environment, and to understand from them what they find helpful and supportive

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Monsignor Paul Tighe from the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications talks to the Associated Press during an interview. VOA

Priests should get online if they want to connect with people who may no longer attend church but can still be reached via social media, the Vatican’s digital expert said Tuesday.

Monsignor Paul Tighe, who helped develop Pope Francis’ online presence, urged Catholic clergy across the world to embrace social media to reach believers and nonbelievers.

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A Facebook start page is shown on a smartphone in Surfside, Florida. Aug. 21, 2018. VOA

“Young people are, unfortunately, less present in our churches,” Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, told Reuters at a technology conference in Lisbon.

“Social media is a mechanism that allows us to engage in conversations, to engage with people who otherwise would never come across us and who we are.”

Pope Francis has nearly 18 million Twitter followers and his posts are widely shared, but not all church leaders are following his example, Tighe said.

“In the beginning, some Catholics said social media was nasty and that we should stay out of it,” he said.

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Pope Francis delivers the Urbi et Orbi (to the city and to the world) blessing at the end of the Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Apr. 1, 2018. VOA

“We have been trying to convince them that the digital arena is a hugely significant part of people’s lives.

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“We had to learn to listen to younger people who live in that [digital] environment, and to understand from them what they find helpful and supportive.”

It was the Irish bishop’s second year at the annual Web Summit — Europe’s biggest technology conference, which this year brought together 70,000 entrepreneurs and guests, including U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (VOA)