Pope Francis tempered his Easter Sunday message of Christian hope with a denunciation of "blind" terrorism, recalling victims of attacks in Europe, Africa, and elsewhere, as well as expressing dismay that people fleeing war or poverty are being denied welcome as European countries squabble over the refugee crisis. Tens of thousands patiently endured long lines, backpack inspections, and metal detectors Sunday to enter St. Peter's Square, reports the AP. Under a brilliant sun, they listened to Francis deliver the traditional noon Easter speech from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. To their delight, Francis completed a whirl through the square, made colorful with sprays of tulips, in his open-topped pope-mobile after celebrating Mass. He leaned over barriers to shake hands, as the vehicle ventured past the Vatican's confines, with his bodyguards jogging alongside.
For years, Islamist extremists have listed the Vatican and Rome as targets, but Francis has kept to his habit of trying to be in close physical contact with ordinary people. Francis said, for the faithful, Jesus who rose after death by crucifixion "triumphed over evil and sin." He expressed hope that "will draw us closer to the victims of terrorism, that blind and brutal form of violence." At the end of Mass, he chatted briefly with the former king and queen of Belgium, Albert II and Paola, who attended. Francis called Easter "a message of life for all humanity." As he has done repeatedly, Francis lamented that "all too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way with death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance."