VATICAN CITY, APRIL 16, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI made an Easter plea for peace in the name of the resurrection of Jesus, particularly in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
After celebrating Easter Mass today, and before imparting the blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city of Rome and the world), the Pope read a message for “this modern age marked by anxiety and uncertainty.”
The Holy Father said: “Jesus is risen, and he gives us peace; he himself is peace. For this reason the Church repeats insistently: ‘Christ is risen — “Christós anésti.”‘ Let the people of the third millennium not be afraid to open their hearts to him.
“His Gospel totally quenches the thirst for peace and happiness that is found in every human heart. Christ is now alive and he walks with us. What an immense mystery of love!”
“Christ is risen because God is love,” The Pontiff said in Latin at the end of his message. “‘Christus resurrexit, quia Deus caritas est!’ Alleluia!”
Some 100,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square on a sunny morning to hear the Pope. Hundreds of millions more people, in 65 countries, followed the event on radio or television.
Benedict XVI highlighted the hope that the resurrection of Jesus offers to troubled spots in the world, beginning with the peoples of the Sudanese region of Darfur.
The Pope said: “May the Spirit of the Risen One, in particular, bring relief and security in Africa to the peoples of Darfur, who are living in a dramatic humanitarian situation that is no longer sustainable; to those of the Great Lakes region, where many wounds have yet to be healed; to the peoples of the Horn of Africa, of Ivory Coast, Uganda, Zimbabwe and other nations which aspire to reconciliation, justice and progress.”
Referring to the Middle East, the Holy Father said in regard to Iraq: “May peace finally prevail over the tragic violence that continues mercilessly to claim victims.”
The Pontiff continued: “I also pray sincerely that those caught up in the conflict in the Holy Land may find peace, and I invite all to patient and persevering dialogue, so as to remove both ancient and new obstacles.
“May the international community, which reaffirms Israel’s just right to exist in peace, assist the Palestinian people to overcome the precarious conditions in which they live and to build their future, moving toward the constitution of a state that is truly their own.”
Benedict XVI also commented on South America: “May the Spirit of the Risen One enkindle a renewed enthusiastic commitment of the countries of Latin America, so that the living conditions of millions of citizens may be improved, the deplorable scourge of kidnapping may be eradicated and democratic institutions may be consolidated in a spirit of harmony and effective solidarity.”
Regarding the “international crises linked to nuclear power,” the Pope asked that “an honorable solution be found for all parties, through serious and honest negotiations, and may the leaders of nations and of international organizations be strengthened in their will to achieve peaceful coexistence among different races, cultures and religions, in order to remove the threat of terrorism.”
“This is the path of peace for the good of the whole of humanity,” the Pontiff said.
After reading his message, Benedict XVI wished the world a happy Easter in 63 languages, including Arabic, Hebrew and Chinese.
In English, the Pope said: “May the grace and joy of the risen Christ be with you all!”
This year Easter coincides with Benedict XVI’s 79th birthday.
In the afternoon the Pope departed for the summer papal residence at Castel Gandolfo, some 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Rome, to rest for a few days.
On Wednesday, Benedict XVI will travel to the Vatican by helicopter to participate in the weekly general audience, and to commemorate the first anniversary of his election as Pope.