27 March 2016
Hope can win over fear, Pope Francis says in Easter message
After a bleak week of terrorist attacks which have left dozens dead in Belgium and Iraq, Pope Francis has used his Easter message to say peace can overcome evil and death.
“With the weapons of love, God has defeated selfishness and death. His son Jesus is the door of mercy wide open to all,” Francis said today during his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” blessing to the city of Rome and to the world.
Pilgrims gathered this morning in the Vatican amid tight security with police checking handbags and backpacks of those entering St Peter’s Square to hear the Pope.
During his message and blessing, delivered from the balcony of St Peter’s basilica, Francis remembered “the victims of terrorism, that blind and brutal form of violence which continues to shed blood in different parts of the world.”
He added: “Our world is full of persons suffering in body and spirit, even as the daily news is full of stories of brutal crimes which often take place within homes, and large-scale armed conflicts which cause indescribable suffering to entire peoples.”
The Pope stressed, however, that “the Lord Jesus, our peace, by his resurrection triumphed over evil and sin” and in his homily last night during the Easter vigil he urged people not to “allow darkness and fear to distract us and control us.”
Just hours before he made those remarks at least 32 people were killed in a suicide attack at a football stadium in Iraq which Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for.
The Pope has sent a message of condolence via Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, calling on the people of Iraq to “reject the ways of hatred and conflict.”
During the “Urbi et Orbi” Francis also referred to other conflict ridden parts of the world, including Syria where he said there was a “contempt for humanitarian law and the breakdown of civil concord.”
The Pope prayed that the peace talks currently taking place in the country will “initiate the building of a fraternal society respectful of the dignity and rights of each citizen.”
The Latin American Pope also cited Venezuela, a country teetering on the edge of bankruptcy due to low oil prices and apparent economic mismanagement. He called on those responsible for the country’s future to work for the “common good” and to “guarantee the spiritual and material welfare of all people.”
Earlier this morning Francis celebrated Mass in St Peter’s square surrounded by 30,000 flowers arranged especially by a team of Dutch florists. The floral display is a gift from the Netherlands to the Vatican and is a tradition that started in 1986.
In his Easter message the Pope, who wrote a landmark teaching document on the environment last year, said the earth was often mistreated and exploited.
“I think especially of those areas affected by climate change, which not infrequently causes drought or violent flooding, which then lead to food crises in different parts of the world,” he said.
Elsewhere, the Pope re-iterated his concern for the plight of refugees and called for peace in the Middle East and Ukraine.
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