UK & World News

  • 20 April 2014, 15:07

Easter: Faithful Attend Services Around World

More than 150,000 people gathered in St Peter's Square in Rome for the annual Easter message from Pope Francis, as the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke of his hopes for the year ahead.

The Archbishop of Canterbury highlighted the suffering of people facing conflict around the world during his Easter sermon at Canterbury Cathedral.

He arrived in Canterbury just before 11am where he delivered his second Easter message since becoming head of the Church of England.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said: "In Syria mothers cry for their children and husbands.

"In the Ukraine neighbours cry because the future is precarious and dangerous. In Rwanda tears are still shed each day as the horror of genocide is remembered.

"In this country, even as the economy improves there is weeping in broken families, in people ashamed to seek help from food banks, or frightened by debt.

"Asylum seekers weep with loneliness and missing far away families. Mary continues to weep across the world."

In his annual 'Urbi et Orbi' message, Pope Francis denounced the "immense wastefulness" in the world while many go hungry and called for an end to conflicts in Syria, Ukraine and Africa.

He condemned the "neglect" that had caused the Ebola crisis in West Africa, urged warring sides in Syria to negotiate 'boldly' and called on the international community to back peace in Ukraine.

"We ask you to enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine," the Catholic leader said.

The Argentine Pope also called for "reconciliation and fraternal concord" in Venezuela, prayed for an end to violence in Nigeria, Central African Republic and South Sudan and pleaded for Middle East peace negotiations.

The Roman Catholic and Protestant churches' Easter weekends co-incide this year with that of the Orthodox church. Sometime, Easter in the eastern half of the Christian world is up to five weeks later.

The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu used his Easter Day sermon at York Minster to highlight a wide range of issues from gender-based violence and tax avoidance to fighting in Syria and the Central African Republic.

Britain's other major faiths have also been marking the Easter period, which is celebrated by the 30 million who described themselves as Christian in the last census.

The Muslim Council of Britain's secretary general, Farooq Murad, said: "At this time of spiritual reflection ? we pray for peace, harmony and contentment across the world."

The Hindu Council UK's Easter message read: "We wish a Happy Easter to our fellow Christians in faith as well as to the British Hindus to celebrate the Ascension of the universal Dharma."

Nigerians marked Easter by mourning the deaths of 75 bomb blast victims from four attacks in three days last week.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited the ancient Christian town of Maalula, which his troops recently recaptured from rebels, and wished all Syrians a "happy Easter".

In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, worshippers prayed and lit candles at the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed to be the birthplace of Jesus.

 

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