03/29/2020, 13.22
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Pope calls for ‘global ceasefire’ during pandemic

At the Angelus, Pope Francis joins the UN secretary general’s appeal because "in countries at war, health systems have collapsed and already reduced health personnel, have often been targeted". A renewed commitment to overcoming rivalries. “Conflicts are not resolved through war!”. Prayer for the sick in nursing homes, for barracks, for prisoners. The explosive problem of overcrowding in prisons. "God's answer to the problem of death is Jesus: 'I am the resurrection and the life'." The Christian is "a reflection of the love and tenderness of God, who frees from death and gifts the victory of life!"

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The ongoing pandemic, "which knows no borders", demands an urgent "and immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world," invoked Pope Francis today.

He was speaking at the end of the Angelus reflection, once again delivered from his private library amid the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.  The pontiff echoed the appeal first launched days ago by the UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres.

The UN secretary general is concerned because "health systems have collapsed in countries at war and already reduced numbers of health workers, have often been targeted." Several personalities have expressed their fears of when the pandemic hits nations like Syria, Palestine and Yemen, or many African countries.

"I join those who make this appeal and I invite everyone to follow it up by ceasing all forms of hostilities, encouraging the creation of corridors for humanitarian aid, openness to diplomacy, and attention to those who find themselves in situations of vulnerability.

May our joint fight against the pandemic bring everyone to recognize the great need to reinforce brotherly and sisterly bonds as members of one human family. In particular, may it inspire a renewed commitment to overcome rivalries among leaders of nations and those parties involved. Conflicts are not resolved through war! Antagonisms and differences, must be overcome through dialogue and a constructive search for peace”.

At this moment my thoughts go to all the people who are forced to live in groups: nursing homes, barracks and above all prisons". Citing a study he read in recent days, the pontiff stressed the problem of overcrowding in places of punishment, harbingers of situations "that could become a tragedy".

Before the Marian prayer, Francis commented on the gospel of today's mass (5th Sunday of Lent, A, John 11, 1-45), which narrates the resurrection of Lazarus.

"In the Gospel - he explained - we see that man's faith and the omnipotence of God's love are sought and finally meet. We see it in the cry of Martha and Mary and all of us with them: 'If you had been here! ... '. And the answer of God is not a speech, the answer of God to the problem of death is Jesus: “I am the resurrection and the life ... Have faith! In the midst of crying, you continue to have faith, even if death seems to have won. Remove the stone from your heart! Let the Word of God bring life back to where there is death. " Even today Jesus repeats to us: 'Remove the stone'. God did not create us for the grave, he created us for life, beautiful, good, joyful. But "death entered the world out of envy of the devil" (Wis 2,24), says the Book of Wisdom, and Jesus Christ came to free us from his snares".

"Therefore, we are called to remove the stones of everything that tastes of death: the hypocrisy with which faith is often lived is death; destructive criticism of others is death; offense, slander, is death; the marginalization of the poor is death. The Lord asks us to remove these stones from our heart, and then life will still flourish around us. Christ lives, and whoever welcomes him and adheres to him comes into contact with life. Without Christ, or outside of Christ, not only is life not present, but one falls back into death”.

“The resurrection of Lazarus - he concluded - is also a sign of the regeneration that takes place in the believer through Baptism, with full insertion into the Paschal Mystery of Christ. By the action and strength of the Holy Spirit, the Christian is a person who walks in life like a new creature: a creature for life, who goes towards life. May the Virgin Mary help us to be compassionate like her Son Jesus, who made our pain his own. May we each and everyone be close to those who are in the midst of trial, becoming for them a reflection of the love and tenderness of God, who frees us from death and makes life victorious".

After the greetings, Francis went to the study window and made a gesture of blessing towards the empty square.

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