Pope Francis denounced the "cruel violence" of the Easter Sunday slaughter of Christians and foreigners in Sri Lanka as he celebrated the most joyful moment on the Christian liturgical calendar by lamenting bloodshed and political violence. Francis skipped his homily during Easter Mass but delivered his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" (To the city and the world) speech highlighting conflicts in the Mideast, Africa, and the Americas. In a special appeal at the end, Francis lamented the "grave attacks" on Sri Lankan hotels and churches, which occurred just as the Christian faithful were celebrating Easter Mass that marks the resurrection of Christ following his crucifixion. "I want to express my loving closeness to the Christian community, targeted while they were gathered in prayer, and all the victims of such cruel violence," Francis said.
"I entrust to the Lord all those who were tragically killed and pray for the injured and all those who are suffering as a result of this dramatic event." As of this writing, some 190 people were killed and hundreds wounded following near-simultaneous blasts at three Sri Lankan churches and three hotels frequented by foreigners. The Vatican said popes sometimes either deliver an off-the-cuff homily on Easter Sunday or skip it altogether, reports the AP, given the lengthy speech and blessing that follows. The 82-year-old Francis has just completed an exhausting few days of Holy Week commemorations, including traveling to a prison outside Rome to wash the feet of inmates on Holy Thursday, presiding over the Way of the Cross procession at Rome's Colosseum on Good Friday, and celebrating the Easter Vigil late Saturday night in St. Peter's Basilica.
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