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

28 Mar 2024

By Contributor

By Carol Glatz

Pope Francis blesses palms with holy water as he celebrates Palm Sunday Mass in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 24, 2024. Photo:CNS/Lola Gomez.

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 on 24 March, 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.

A man hands out palm fronds to people taking part in Palm Sunday Mass in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 24, 2024, marking the beginning of Holy Week. Photo:CNS/Lola Gomez.

The Vatican offered no explanation about why there was no homily. The Holy Father 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.'”

Pope Francis rides in the popemobile to greet the faithful in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican after celebrating Palm Sunday Mass March 24, 2024. Photo:CNS/Lola Gomez.

The Holy Father 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.