Vatican City (AsiaNews) – During today’s Regina Caeli, Pope Francis made another firm appeal to the international community "not to stand by mute and inactive" in front of ''the unacceptable crime” in which “our brothers and sisters are persecuted, exiled, killed, and beheaded for the mere fact of being Christian." For the Holy Father, such a crime "constitutes an alarming failure to protect basic human rights.”
Putting aside his written text, the pope said, “I sincerely hope that the international community does not look away”. Indeed, this week alone, he spoke six times (during Palm Sunday Mass, Wednesday catechesis, the Way of the Cross, the Easter Vigil, the Urbi et orbi message and today’s Regina Caeli) about the martyrdom of Christians as well as the indifference of international community towards their fate.
He did so to mark the conclusion of the pilgrimage by the Shalom Movement, which ended today in Rome, whose purpose was to "raise awareness about the persecution of Christians in the world."
The pope addressed them at the end of the Regina Caeli prayer, with an exhortation. "Your journey on the roads is over,” he told them, “but everyone must continue the spiritual journey of intense prayer, concrete participation and tangible help to defend and protect our persecuted brothers and sisters, who are exiled, killed, and beheaded by the mere fact of being Christian. They are our martyrs today. They are many, and we can say that they are more numerous than in the first centuries."
Before the Regina Caeli prayer, which traditionally takes the place of the Angelus during Easter celebrations, Francis commented the Gospel of today's Mass (Mt 28:8-15). The latter mentions the women at the sepulchre, the proclamation by the angel and the meeting of the Risen Jesus with the women, to whom he gave the message, "Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me" (see 10).
"The Galilee,” he explained, “is the 'periphery' where Jesus began his preaching. From there, the Gospel of the Resurrection set out again, to be proclaimed to everyone, so that everyone might be able to meet Him, the Risen One, present and at work in history."
"Even today,” Francis said, “He is with us here in the square."
"This is then the proclamation the Church repeats from the first day: Christ is Risen!"
“In Him, through our Baptism, we too are risen, we have passed from death to life, from the slavery of sin to the freedom of love”.
“This is the Good News that we are called to carry to others in every environment, animated by the Holy Spirit,” the pontiff said.
“Faith in the resurrection of Jesus and the hope He has brought to us is the most beautiful gift that a Christian can and must offer his brothers and sisters,” he went on to say. “To one and all, therefore, do not tire of repeating: Christ is risen!”
Turning to the crowd, he said, “Let us say it again together today: Christ is Risen! Once more: Christ is risen! Let us say it in words, but most of all by the witness of our lives."
"We proclaim Christ’s resurrection,” he noted, “when his light illuminates the dark moments of our existence and we are able to share it with others, when we know when to smile with those who smile and weep with those who weep, when we walk beside those who are sad and are at risk of losing hope, when we recount our experience of faith to those who are searching for meaning and happiness. With our lives, with all our soul, we say, Jesus is Risen!"
In calling on the faithful to recite the Regina Caeli, he said, “Let us ask the Virgin Mother, silent witness of the death and resurrection of her Son, to enhance in us the joy of Easter . . . Our joy is a reflection of Mary’s joy, because it is She who has faithfully kept and keeps the events of Jesus. Let us recite this prayer, therefore, with the emotion of the children who are happy because their mother is happy."