VATICAN CITY, MARCH 27, 2005 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II imparted his traditional Easter blessing in silence from the window of his study after making repeated efforts to pronounce the words.
The Pope, who had asked that a microphone be brought to him, tried unsuccessfully several times to have his voice heard today during the blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city of Rome and the world).
The Holy Father’s enormous effort elicited the applause of tens of thousands of pilgrims who filled St. Peter’s Square, not a few of whom were moved to tears. More than 100 television channels from 74 countries, including eight Muslim nations, broadcast the event.
With gestures, John Paul II, who is recovering from a Feb. 24 throat operation, apologized several times for being unable to pronounce his much-awaited greeting, and proceeded to bless the crowd several times with his right hand.
The Pontiff was at his study window for almost 15 minutes, openly exposed to the wind blowing on a cloudy morning in Rome.
In his Easter Message, read a few minutes earlier on his behalf by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Pope implored Christ’s presence in the Eucharist for a world scourged by wars, disasters, misery and materialism.
“Peace for a world consecrated by your blood and drenched in the blood of so many innocent victims: peace for the countries of the Middle East and Africa, where so much blood continues to be shed; peace for all of humanity, still threatened by fratricidal wars,” he said in the text.
“Give us also the strength to show generous solidarity toward the multitudes who are even today suffering and dying from poverty and hunger, decimated by fatal epidemics or devastated by immense natural disasters,” the papal statement said, raising a prayer to Jesus.
“Grant that the material progress of peoples may never obscure the spiritual values which are the soul of their civilization,” the Holy Father implored.
John Paul II was substituted in the closing Mass of the rites of Holy Week by Cardinal Sodano, who presided from the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica, turned into a garden of white and yellow flowers, a gift to the Pope from Dutch horticulturists.
In the liturgies and ceremonies of the previous days, various cardinals substituted for the Holy Father.
He appeared on television on Good Friday, without his face being seen, to participate from his private chapel in the Stations of the Cross held at the Colosseum.