“In embracing the cross, Jesus bestowed meaning on our sufferings,” said Francis in his Easter message and Urbi et Orbi blessing. The pontiff expressed hope for people with COVID-19, the poor affected by the economic crisis, young people, migrants. He also mentioned certain countries and places: Haiti, Myanmar, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Nagorno Karabakh, eastern Ukraine, Sahel, Nigeria, Tigray, and Cabo Delgado. Without citing any one country, Francis remembered all the places where religious freedom is denied.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis ended his Easter Message the occasion of the Urbi et Orbi blessing, saying “we have been healed by the wounds of Christ (cf. 1 Pt 2:24). In the light of the Risen Lord, our sufferings are now transfigured.”
In his address, the pontiff listed some of the travails and difficulties in today’s world. This followed the Mass on the day of the Resurrection. Last night, Francis led the Easter Vigil and delivered his homily.
At Mass today, a period of silence was held in lieu of the homily. Before the final rites of the Eucharist, the Pope did something unusual: he first thanked the new archpriest of St Peter's Basilica, Card Mauro Gambetti, who recently took up his duties, and his predecessor, Card Angelo Comastri, wishing him all the best. The pontiff then thanked all those who made the dignity and beauty of the celebrations possible, namely the choir, the altar servers, the artists, the readers . . .
At noon, Francis was back at the Altar of the Chair, proclaiming the Message. First of all, he reiterated that “The Easter message does not offer us a mirage or reveal a magic formula. It does not point to an escape from the difficult situation we are experiencing. The pandemic is still spreading, while the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for the poor. Nonetheless – and this is scandalous – armed conflicts have not ended and military arsenals are being strengthened.
“In the face of, or better, in the midst of this complex reality, the Easter message speaks concisely of the event that gives us the hope that does not disappoint: ‘Jesus who was crucified has risen’. It speaks to us not about angels or ghosts, but about a man, a man of flesh and bone, with a face and a name: Jesus. [. . .] The crucified Jesus, none other, has risen from the dead. God the Father raised Jesus, his Son, because he fully accomplished his saving will. Jesus took upon himself our weakness, our infirmities, even our death. He endured our sufferings and bore the weight of our sins. Because of this, God the Father exalted him and now Jesus Christ lives forever; he is the Lord.”
The pontiff noted that “The risen Christ is hope for all who continue to suffer from the pandemic, both the sick and those who have lost a loved one.” He urged everyone “to combat the pandemic”, calling on especially the “international community, in a spirit of global responsibility, to commit to overcoming delays in the distribution of vaccines and to facilitate their distribution, especially in the poorest countries.”
Speaking about Haiti and its appalling economic situation, he mentioned “those who have lost their jobs”, a fact made worse by the pandemic, urging the authorities to provide “the assistance needed for their decent standard of living.”
The pontiff also invoked Christ’s hope for young people, “forced to go long periods without attending school or university, or spending time with their friends”, as well as for the youth of Myanmar, “committed to supporting democracy and making their voices heard peacefully, in the knowledge that hatred can be dispelled only by love.”
Francis called for “concrete signs of solidarity and human fraternity” for migrants “fleeing from war and extreme poverty”. He thanked host countries, citing Jordan and Lebanon. For the latter, which is going through a major political crisis, he hoped to see “support from the international community in their vocation to be a land of encounter, coexistence and pluralism.
The Pope asked the Lord to grant “peace and security” (as well as “two states” side by side) to Israelis and Palestinians. For Iraq, which he visited last month, he expressed hope that it may “fulfil God’s dream for a human family hospitable and welcoming to all his children.” He equally prayed that weapons may be silenced and reconstruction begin in “beloved and war-torn Syria” as well as Yemen and Libya.
For the peoples in Africa affected by terrorism, especially in the Sahel, Nigeria, Tigray and Cabo Delgado, he called for “efforts to resolve conflicts peacefully [. . .], in respect for human rights and the sacredness of life, through fraternal and constructive dialogue in a spirit of reconciliation and true solidarity.”
Francis also called for God’s help to “overcome the mindset of war” by inspiring “world leaders to curb the race for new weaponry” and free prisoners of war, “especially in eastern Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabakh”. On this day, International Awareness Day against anti-personnel landmines, the pontiff said: “How much better our world would be without these instruments of death!”
Francis did not forget the countries where freedom of religious is violated. Although he did not mention any one by name, he said: “Dear brothers and sisters, once again this year, in various places many Christians have celebrated Easter under severe restrictions and, at times, without being able to attend liturgical celebrations. We pray that those restrictions, as well as all restrictions on freedom of worship and religion worldwide, may be lifted and everyone be allowed to pray and praise God freely.
“Amid the many hardships we are enduring, let us never forget that we have been healed by the wounds of Christ (cf. 1 Pt 2:24). In the light of the Risen Lord, our sufferings are now transfigured. Where there was death, now there is life. Where there was mourning, now there is consolation. In embracing the cross, Jesus bestowed meaning on our sufferings and now we pray that the benefits of that healing will spread throughout the world. Happy Easter to all of you!”