VATICAN CITY, APRIL 20, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II implored for the world’s deliverance “from the peril of the tragic clash between cultures and religions,” in his message to the world on Easter Sunday.
He also made an urgent appeal for peace in Iraq.
“Let there be an end to the chain of hatred and terrorism which threatens the orderly development of the human family,” he said when addressing some 100,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square at midday.
“May God grant that we be free from the peril of a tragic clash between cultures and religions,” the Holy Father added in a clear and strong voice, as his message was televised live to 53 countries.
Following the Easter Vigil the Pope presided over the previous night, and the celebration of Mass on Sunday morning, he concluded the marathon of Holy Week celebrations under gray skies with Easter greetings in 62 languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, Khalkha Mongol and Chinese.
“May faith and love of God make the followers of every religion courageous builders of understanding and forgiveness, patient weavers of a fruitful interreligious dialogue, capable of inaugurating a new era of justice and peace,” he said in his Easter message.
Earlier, he called for peace in Iraq, adding that with “the support of the international community, may the Iraqi people become the protagonists of the collective rebuilding of their country.”
John Paul II then referred to the “forgotten wars and protracted hostilities that are causing deaths and injuries amid silence and neglect on the part of considerable sectors of public opinion.”
“With profound grief, I think of the wake of violence and bloodshed, with no sign of ceasing, in the Holy Land. I think of the tragic situation of many countries on the African continent, which cannot be abandoned to itself,” he said.
“I am well aware of the centers of tension and the attacks on people’s freedom in the Caucasus, in Asia and in Latin America, areas of the world equally dear to me,” the Pope continued.
To all these places of pain, the Holy Father offered the risen Christ’s message of peace: “of true peace, founded on the solid pillars of love and justice, truth and freedom.”
During the Prayer of the Faithful, special mention was made of “persons wounded or abused by war in mind and body.” Prayers were raised so that soldiers on the front lines will harbor “thoughts of peace and not of vengeance.”
During the Easter greetings, John Paul II was interrupted by the cries and applause of young people from Spain, Latin America, Germany, the Philippines and Poland. When a group of Mexican girls shouted, “John Paul II, the whole world loves you,” he answered with irony: “Maybe.”