On Palm Sunday, pope prays people open hearts to God, quell all hatred

Pope Francis looks on during the procession at the start of Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 24, 2024. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Only Jesus can deliver humanity from hatred and violence, Pope Francis said on Palm Sunday.

"Jesus entered Jerusalem as a humble and peaceful king," he said in brief remarks after celebrating Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square. He prayed that the faithful would open their hearts to the Lord because he alone "can deliver us from animosity, hatred, violence, because he is mercy and the forgiveness of sins."

On a sunny and windy day, about 60,000 people attended the Mass March 24, which began with a solemn procession of hundreds of people carrying green palm branches followed by about 60 cardinals and bishops, carrying "palmurelli," pale green palm branches that were woven and braided.

Dressed in red vestments, the color of the Passion, Pope Francis presided over the Mass, the solemn beginning of Holy Week, but he skipped the homily and did not have an aide read any prepared remarks. Cardinal Claudio Gugerotti, prefect of the Dicastery for Eastern Churches, was the main celebrant at the altar.

The Vatican offered no explanation about why there was no homily. The pope did read brief remarks after praying the Angelus, greeted the cardinals in attendance from his wheelchair, and he rode in the popemobile for about 15 minutes enthusiastically greeting the faithful, waving, gesturing, offering a thumbs up and occasionally calling out remarks to those he saw.

In his brief remarks, he expressed his sorrow over a deadly attack in Moscow March 22 in which more than 130 people were killed inside a crowded concert venue.

He prayed for the victims of this "cowardly terrorist attack" and called for the conversion of the "hearts of those who plan, organize and carry out these inhumane actions that offend God, who commanded, 'Thou shalt not kill.'"

The pope extended his prayers to all people who suffer because of war, particularly those in Ukraine, "where so many people find themselves without electricity because of intense attacks against the infrastructure that, in addition to causing death and suffering, carry the risk of an even larger humanitarian catastrophe."

He also asked people not to forget about the people of Gaza who "are suffering so much" and the many other places experiencing war.



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