Pope Francis used an unusually somber backdrop of a raining St. Peter’s Square on Sunday to deliver an Easter sermon appealing to the world to end its “complicit silence” of the persecution of Christians at the hands of Islamist extremists.

In the traditional “Urbi et Orbi” address – “To the city and the world” – Francis drew particular attention to the victims of Thursday’s massacre in Kenya, where five Islamist gunmen murdered 148 students – first separating the Christians from the Muslims to choose their victims.

“May constant prayer rise up from all people of goodwill for those who lost their lives,” Francis said, according to USA Today.

“I think in particular of the young people who were killed last Thursday at Garissa University College in Kenya, for all those who have been kidnapped, and for those forced to abandon their homes and loved ones.”

The reference to current events came after the pope discussed the importance of Easter, the essential component of Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus. It’s a day of celebration, but the pope took the occasion to assail the blindness that meets attacks on the basis of faith — like the beheadings of Coptic Christians by Islamic State terrorists in February.

“Today we see our brothers persecuted, decapitated, crucified for their faith in you, under our eyes and often with our complicit silence,” he prayed, according to Agence France-Presse.

Still the pope voiced his hopes for world peace, including the agreement reached among Iran, the United States and other world powers on Thursday over Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons, USA Today reported.


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