In an Easter peace wish, Pope Francis today praised the framework nuclear agreement with Iran as an opportunity to make the world safer, while expressing deep worry about bloodshed in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, and elsewhere in Africa. Cautious hope ran through Francis' "Urbi et Orbi" Easter message, which he delivered from the central balcony of St. Peter's Square. He had just celebrated Mass in rain-whipped St. Peter's Square for tens of thousands. Francis made his first public comments about the recent Iran deal, saying, "In hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world."
Decrying the plentitude of weapons in the world in general, Francis said: "And we ask for peace for this world subjected to arms dealers, who earn their living with the blood of men and women." He denounced "absurd bloodshed and all barbarous acts of violence" in Libya, and hoped "a common desire for peace" would prevail in Yemen. Francis prayed that the "roar of arms may cease" in Syria and Iraq, and that peace would come in Africa for Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, and Congo. He recalled the young people, many of them targeted because they were Christians, killed last week in a Kenyan university, and lamented kidnappings, by Islamic extremists, that have plagued parts of Africa. He prayed that God would alleviate "the suffering of so many of our brothers persecuted because of his name." (Read more Pope Francis stories.)