, 12 April, 2020 / 11:05 AM
In his Easter blessing, Pope Francis called on humanity to unite in solidarity and look to the risen Christ for hope amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Today the Church’s proclamation echoes throughout the world: ‘Jesus Christ is risen!’ – ‘He is truly risen,’” Pope Francis said on April 12.
“The Risen Lord is also the Crucified One … In his glorious body he bears indelible wounds: wounds that have become windows of hope. Let us turn our gaze to him, that he may heal the wounds of an afflicted humanity,” the pope said in an nearly empty St. Peter’s Basilica.
Pope Francis gave the traditional Easter Sunday Urbi et Orbi blessing from inside the basilica following Easter Sunday Mass.
“Urbi et Orbi” means “To the City [of Rome] and to the World” and is a special apostolic blessing given by the pope every year on Easter Sunday, Christmas, and other special occasions.
“Today my thoughts turn in the first place 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. May the Lord of life welcome the departed into his kingdom and grant comfort and hope to those still suffering, especially the elderly and those who are alone,” he said.
The pope prayed for the vulnerable in nursing homes and prisons, for the lonely, and for those suffering from economic difficulties.
Pope Francis acknowledged that many Catholics are left without the consolation of the sacraments this year. He said it is important to remember that Christ has not left us alone, but reassures us, saying: “I have risen and I am with you still.”
“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,” the pope prayed.
Before the blessing, Pope Francis offered the Solemn Mass of Easter at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica without the presence of the public due to the coronavirus. He did not give a homily this year. Instead, he paused for a moment of silent reflection following the Gospel, which was proclaimed in Greek.
“In these weeks, the lives of millions of people have suddenly changed,” he said. “This is not a time for indifference, because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic. May the risen Jesus grant hope to all the poor, to those living on the peripheries, to refugees and the homeless.”
Pope Francis called on political leaders to work for the common good and to provide the means for everyone to lead a dignified life.
He appealed to countries engaged in conflicts to support the call for a global ceasefire and to relax international sanctions.
“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. Rather, may this be a time for finally ending the long war that has caused such great bloodshed in Syria, the conflict in Yemen and the hostilities in Iraq and in Lebanon,” the pope said.
The reduction, if not the forgiveness, of debts can also help poor countries to support their citizens in need, he pointed out.
Pope Francis prayed: “In Venezuela, may He enable concrete and immediate solutions to be reached that can permit international assistance to a population suffering from the grave political, socio-economic and health situation.”
“This is not a time for self-centeredness, because the challenge we are facing is shared by all, without distinguishing between persons,” he said.
Pope Francis said that the European Union was facing “an epochal challenge, on which will depend not only its future but that of the whole world.” He called for solidarity and innovative solutions, saying that the alternative would risk peaceful coexistence for future generations.
The pope prayed that this Easter season would be a time of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. He asked the Lord to end the sufferings of those who live in eastern Ukraine and the suffering of people facing a humanitarian crisis in Africa and Asia.
The resurrection of Christ is “the victory of love over the root of evil, a victory that 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,” Pope Francis said.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa