At the Regina Caeli, the Pope denounces the terrorist attack in Pakistan, that killed 72 and wounded 350 "mostly families from the Christian minority." Prayers for the victims and a call on authorities "to make every effort to restore security and tranquility to the population and, in particular, the most vulnerable religious minorities". The joy of Easter is because "life has conquered death." "If Christ is risen, we can look with new eyes and hearts at every event of our lives, even to the most negative”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - An "appalling attack, in which so many innocent people were massacred" is how Pope Francis today condemned yesterday’s attack in Lahore, that left 72 dead and 350 wounded.
The victims, the Pope continued, are "for the most part families of the Christian minority - especially women and children - gathered in a public park to spend the Easter holidays in joy".
The condemnation of this latest episode of terrorist violence followed the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the Marian prayer that replaces the Angelus during the Easter season, with the pilgrims in St. Peter's Square.
The pope added: "I wish to express my closeness to all those affected by this cowardly and senseless crime, and invite you to pray the Lord for the many victims and their loved ones. I appeal to the civil authorities and to all the social components of that nation, to do everything possible to restore security and tranquility to the population and, in particular, the most vulnerable religious minorities. I repeat once again that violence and murderous hatred only lead to pain and destruction; respect and fraternity are the only way to achieve peace. May the Easter of the Lord inspire in us, ever stronger, prayer to God to stay the hands of the violent who sow terror and death, so that love, justice and reconciliation may reign in the world".
Earlier, Pope Francis once again focused on the meaning of "Easter joy." "Life - he said - has conquered death. Mercy and love won over sin! There is need for faith and hope to open this wonderful new horizon. Let us be pervaded by emotions that resonate in the Easter sequence: "Yes, we are certain: Christ is truly Risen". This truth indelibly marked the lives of the apostles after the Resurrection, who again felt the need to follow their Master and received the Holy Spirit, fearlessly going out to proclaim to everyone what they had seen with their own eyes and personally experienced".
"In this Jubilee Year - he continued - we are called to rediscover and to welcome the comforting announcement of the resurrection with particular intensity: "Christ, my hope, is Risen. " If Christ is risen, we can look with new eyes and hearts at every event of our lives, even the most negative. The moments of darkness, of failure and sin can be transformed and announce a new journey. When we reached the bottom of our misery and our weakness, the Risen Christ gives us the strength to get up. If we rely on Him, His grace saves us! The Crucified and Risen Lord is the full revelation of mercy, present and active in history. This is the Easter message that still resonates today and that will resonate throughout the Easter season until Pentecost".
"The silent Witness of the events of the passion and resurrection of Jesus - he concluded - was Mary. She was standing next to the cross: she did not crumble beneath her pain, but her faith made her stronger. In her broken mother’s heart has always been on the flame of hope. We ask her to help us also to fully accept the Easter proclamation of the resurrection, to embody it in the reality of our daily lives.
May the Virgin Mary give us the certainty of faith that suffered every step of our journey, illuminated by the light of Easter, will become a blessing and joy for us and for others, especially for those who suffer because of selfishness and indifference. Let us invoke her, then, with faith and devotion, with the Regina Caeli".
In conclusion, the pontiff invited everyone present to repeat three times a phrase from the liturgy: "Christ, my hope, is risen!" and he called on the faithful to pick up a bible and read the Easter story during the coming days.