Easter Sunday: New Pope and Archbishop strike profound notes on Christianity's biggest day

Pope Francis calls for peace in Syria and the Korean peninsula

Pope Francis today used his first Easter Sunday message to pray for peace in war-torn Syria and on the tense Korean Penisnula.

Speaking to around 250,000 people in St Peter's Square, the new pontiff also prayed for Nigeria, "where great numbers of people, including children, are held hostage by terrorist groups."

He also condemned human trafficking as "the most extensive form of slavery in this 21st century".

The Syrian civil war, now in its third year, is thought to have killed more than 70,000 and displaced one million. Bashar al-Assad is still clinging to power against determined rebel forces.

Francis asked: "How much blood has been shed? And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?"

"On the Korean peninsula, may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow."

This was a reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's declaration that the reclusive communist state is now entering a “state of war” with its neighbour, South Korea.

Francis continued the theme of apparent humility which has marked his term so far, touring St Peter's Square in his open-top "popemobile," kissing babies and waving to cheering crowds who waved flags from around the world.

This follows his renunciation of much of his private accommodation, his call for a "poor church for the poor" and his visit to a Rome prison on Thursday, where he washed and kissed the feet of inmates.

After he ascended to the papacy, he phoned his local newsagent in Buenos Aires - where, as archbishop, he used to travel by bus - to cancel his own newspaper deliveries.

During his message, Francis prayed God would reach "every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons."

He said: "What a joy it is for me to announce this message: Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons. 

"Most of all, I would like it to enter every heart, for it is there that God wants to sow this Good News: Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin, of evil! Love has triumphed, mercy has been victorious! The mercy of God always triumphs! "

In the UK, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby - another Easter debutant- warned against society's tendency to seek heroes in its leading figures and institutions.

The Most Rev Welby said ignoring complexity and humanity left us "unreasonably disappointed" with everyone "from politicians to NHS, education to environment."

He told worshippers at Canterbury Cathedral that setting people or institutions up to heights where they can only fail was "mere cruelty".

The Archbishop, who was enthroned as head of the Church of England earlier this month, said: "A political party gets a new leader and three months later there is comment about disappointment.

"An economy suffers the worst blow in generations with a debt crisis and economic downturn, and the fact that not everything is perfect within five years is seen as total failure.

"Complexity and humanity are ignored and we end up unreasonably disappointed with every institution, group and policy, from politicians to NHS, education to environment.

"Put not your trust in new leaders, better systems, new organisations or regulatory reorganisation.

"They may well be good and necessary, but will to some degree fail.

"Human sin means pinning hopes on individuals is always a mistake, and assuming that any organisation is able to have such good systems that human failure will be eliminated is naive."

He added: "Human fallibility recognised, God's sovereignty trusted - these are also the only stable foundation for human beings in society.

Mr Welby pointed to reports on Friday that only 40 per cent of churchgoers are convinced the new archbishop can resolve the problems of the Church of England.

"I do hope that means the other 60 per cent thought the idea so barking mad that they did not answer the question," he said.

"Holy Week and Easter show us the reality of God and of human beings. It is a reality that equips us for action in the world, action that is based on hope and realism, not on cynicism or fear."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map