VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- In his annual Urbi et Orbi address, delivered on Easter Sunday, Pope John Paul II expressed the hope that the "message of peace" of "the risen Christ" will enlighten the hearts of world leaders in the Middle East, especially in the city of Jerusalem, where he observed that the peace is now in danger. The Pope also called for an end to ethnic rivalries which have caused "fratricidal wars and massacres," especially in Africa but also in Europe.

      Vatican sources indicated that the Pope's references to fratricidal wars were intended to apply to Bosnia and Kosovo-- where tensions are running high and violence is never far from the surface-- as well as to the Great Lakes region of Africa, where massacres continue to occur in Rwanda and Burundi.

      The Pope addressed his Easter message in part to "all those who are living through a Calvary that is apparently without end." For them, too, he recalled the message of the risen Christ, and noted that how many people over the centuries-- and in this century-- have borne witness to Christ's message of peace. "Some have been witnesses even to the shedding of their blood," he pointed out, and their witness has inspired the Church to endure the harshest persecutions.

      Hoping that the horrors of this century will not recur "for the humanity which is entering the third millennium," the Holy Father urged the faithful to take courage in the Easter message, and to work to build a world of peace.

      Pope John Paul concluded his Easter address to the world by saying, "Happy Easter, in the joy and peace of the risen Christ"-- a message he repeated in 57 different languages.

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April 15, 1998 volume 9, no. 73         DAILY CATHOLIC