In the Easter Message and before the Urbi et Orbi blessing, Pope Francis admonishes the international community, calling on all not to allow "fear and death" prevail, instead of the "the Lord Jesus". He remembers the victims of the pandemic, he urges greater support for doctors and nurses. No to international sanctions; cancel or reduce the debt of poor countries. Europe must find unity. Yes to a global ceasefire; no to arms trafficking. "A stable and lasting solution" for Israelis and Palestinians and for the whole Middle East. He also remembers the "populations in Asia and Africa who are experiencing serious humanitarian crises".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "This is not the time of indifference", "for self-centeredness", "for division", "for forgetfulness": " are not words we want to hear at this time. We want to ban these words for ever! They seem to prevail when fear and death overwhelm us, that is, when we do not let the Lord Jesus triumph in our hearts and lives.” Thus Pope Francis admonished the Church, politicians, all humanity with his Easter message on the day of Jesus' resurrection, shortly before giving the Urbi et Orbi blessing (to the city of Rome and to the world).
This rite – which usually takes place from the balcony of the facade of St. Peter's Basilica - was also subject to the limitations due to the rules against the spread of the pandemic: the blessing and the Message were proclaimed by the Altar of Confession, inside the basilica. Previously, at the Altar of the Chair, the pontiff had celebrated mass, together with a few ministers and a few faithful, in a basilica echoing with empty naves (see photo).
Not "an Easter of solitude"
Faced with the "epochal challenges" and "a pandemic severely testing our whole human family", the Pope recalled the announcement of the Church: “Christ, my hope, is risen!” "A different contagion, which is transmitted from heart to heart," " the contagion of hope ".
Francis’ first thought was towards “to the many who have been directly affected by the coronavirus: the sick, those who have died and family members who mourn the loss of their loved ones, to whom, in some cases, they were unable even to bid a final farewell", to " who are especially vulnerable, such as persons who work in nursing homes, or live in barracks and prisons ".
Confronted with the "physical suffering" and the "economic problems" that the pandemic is causing, confronted with an "Easter of solitude", the Pope announces that the resurrection of Christ “does not “by-pass” suffering and death, but passes through them, opening a path in the abyss, transforming evil into good: this is the unique hallmark of the power of God.”
Although because of the pandemic, the faithful cannot approach the Eucharist and reconciliation, Francis stressed that the Lord "has laid his hand upon us (cf. Ps 138:5), firmly reassuring us: Do not be afraid, “I have risen and I am with you still!”.
This comfort is addressed in particular to doctors and nurses, "to doctors and nurses, who everywhere offer a witness of care and love for our neighbors, to the point of exhaustion and not infrequently at the expense of their own health", as well as to all those who guarantee "essential services necessary for civil society".
"This is not the time ..."
Then followed four strong exhortations to the world community. First of all: " because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic ". And the pope asks for attention to the poor, to those who lack basic necessities, medicines, health care. For this reason, he asked that "international sanctions" be eased "on the countries affected (such as Syria and Iran), and a cancelation or reduction “of the debt burdening the balance sheets of the poorest nations.”
"This is not the time for self-centeredness," he said in a second strong exhortation, addressing "a special thought to Europe". After asking that the rivalries of the past not re-emerge today, he added: " The European Union is presently facing an epochal challenge, on which will depend not only its future but that of the whole world. Let us not lose the opportunity to give further proof of solidarity, also by turning to innovative solutions. The only alternative is the selfishness of particular interests and the temptation of a return to the past, at the risk of severely damaging the peaceful coexistence and development of future generations."
In the third exhortation, "this is not the time for divisions", the pontiff calls for "an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. This is not a time for continuing to manufacture and deal in arms, spending vast amounts of money that ought to be used to care for others and save lives."
The Pope particularly remembered the situations in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, invoking "a stable and lasting solution" for Israelis and Palestinians, Ukraine, several African countries afflicted by terrorism.
The fourth exhortation, "this is not the time of forgetfulness", pushes us not to forget the " all those in Asia and Africa who are experiencing grave humanitarian crises. He particularly remembers Mozambique, migrants and refugees, "especially in Libya and on the border between Greece and Turkey", those of the island of Lesbos, Venezuela, so that "concrete and immediate solutions" can be reached.
“Dear brothers and sisters - he concluded - Indifference, self-centredness, division and forgetfulness are not words we want to hear at this time. We want to ban these words forever! They seem to prevail when fear and death overwhelm us, that is, when we do not let the Lord Jesus triumph in our hearts and lives. May Christ, who has already defeated death and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, dispel the darkness of our suffering humanity and lead us into the light of his glorious day, a day that knows no end."
And he wished everyone a Happy Easter.