By Sarah Ferris
Pope Francis said in his global Easter message on Sunday that the preliminary nuclear agreement reached with Iran last week in Switzerland could help pave the way to peace in the region.
“In hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world,” the pope said from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Under the framework, the countries would agree to gradually lift sanctions while Iran allows inspectors access to its nuclear development sites. The deadline for the final deal is June 30, though it faces opposition from countries such as Israel, as well as conservative lawmakers in the U.S.
While Francis expressed hope for the Iran deal, he urged action on remaining threats to global peace, from Ukraine to South Sudan.
“We ask for peace, above all, for Syria and Iraq, that the roar of arms may cease and that peaceful relations may be restored among the various groups which make up those beloved countries,” he said, according to a translation from the original Italian.
He also prayed, “in particular,” for the nearly 200 young Kenyans who were slaughtered at Garissa University College on Thursday.