THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS INTRODUCTION|
Today we bring you the Holy Father's annual Urbi et Orbi Easter Address given Sunday to an overflowing crowd of well over 150,000 at St. Peter's Square in which the Pope denounced racism and xenophobia, which is the hatred of foreigners. He did not mention any specific countries in particular but clearly aimed his comments at Africa, the Middle East, and Asia where Muslim insurgents are persecuting Christians and in Europe where in the Balkans ethnic cleansings are still going on. He asked God to "grant the human family of the third millennium a just and lasting peace." He expressed the sincere hope that all nations and peoples the worldover would "overturn the hardness of our hearts" in recognizing full respect for human rights and understand the significance of life associated with the Resurrection of Our Lord. The full English text was translated and provided by ZENIT news agency ZE00042324 .
April 23, 2000
1. "Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando . . ."
Once again, today, the whole Church pauses in amazement at the empty tomb. Like Mary Magdalen and the other women, who came to anoint with spices the body of the Crucified One, like the Apostles Peter and John who came running at the word of the women, the Church bows before the tomb in which her Lord was placed after the crucifixion.
A month ago, as a pilgrim in the Holy Land, I had the grace of kneeling before the stone slab which marks the place of Jesus' burial.
Today, Easter Sunday, I make my own the proclamation of the Heavenly messenger: "He is risen, He is not here" (Mark 16:6).
Yes, life and death were locked in combat and Life was victorious for ever. All is once again oriented to life, to Eternal Life!
2. "Victimae paschali laudes immolent christiani . . ."
The words of the Easter Sequence marvellously express the mystery accomplished in Christ's Passover. They point to the power of renewal flowing from his Resurrection. With the weapons of love, God has defeated sin and death.
The Eternal Son, who emptied Himself to become the obedient servant to the point of dying on the Cross (cf. Phil 2:7-8), has conquered evil at its roots by opening to contrite hearts the path of return to the Father. He is the Gate of Life who at Easter overcomes the gates of hell. He is the Door of salvation, opened wide for all, the Door of divine mercy, Who sheds a new light on human existence.
3. The Risen Christ signals the paths of hope along which we can advance together towards a world more just and mutually supportive, in which the blind egoism of the few will not prevail over the cries of pain of the many, reducing entire peoples to conditions of degrading misery.
May the message of life proclaimed by the angel near the stone rolled back from the tomb overturn the hardness of our hearts; may it lead to removing unjustified barriers and promote a fruitful exchange between peoples and cultures.
May the image of the new man, shining on the face of Christ, cause everyone to acknowledge the inalienable value of human life; may it encourage effective responses to the increasingly felt demand for justice and equal opportunity in all areas of society; may it impel individuals and States to full respect for the essential and authentic rights rooted in the very nature of the human person.
4. Lord Jesus, our Peace (Eph 2:14), Word made flesh two thousand years ago, Who by rising from the dead have conquered evil and sin, grant the human family of the third millennium a just and lasting peace; bring to a happy outcome the talks undertaken by people of good will who, despite so many doubts and difficulties, are trying to bring an end to the troubling conflicts in Africa, the armed clashes in some countries of Latin America, the persistent tensions affecting the Middle East, vast areas of Asia, and some parts of Europe.
Help the nations to overcome old and new rivalries, by rejecting attitudes of racism and xenophobia. May the whole of creation, inundated by the splendor of the Resurrection, rejoice because "the brightness of the eternal King has vanquished the darkness of the world" (Easter Proclamation).
Yes, Christ has risen victorious, and has offered man, Adam's heir in sin and death, a new heritage of life and glory.
5. "Ubi est mors stimulus tuus?"
Through the Church, the experience of these eye-witnesses has come down to us too. It is a significant part of the journey of the pilgrims who, during this Year of the Great Jubilee, are entering through the Holy Door, and going away with renewed courage to build pathways of reconciliation with God and with their brothers and sisters.
At the heart of this Year of grace, may the proclamation of Christ's followers be heard more loudly and clearly, a joint proclamation, beyond all divisions, in ardent longing for full communion: "Scimus Christum surrexisse a mortuis vere." "Yes, that Christ is truly risen from the dead we know, Victorious King, your mercy show!" Amen.
April 25, 2000 |
volume 10, no. 81
THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS
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