VATICAN CITY, APRIL 8, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The resurrection of Christ gives hope to a world afflicted by natural disasters, disease and violence, said Benedict XVI in his Easter message.
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 in which he said that “natural calamities and human tragedies that cause innumerable victims and enormous material destruction are not lacking.”
“Through the wounds of the Risen Christ we can see the evils which afflict humanity with the eyes of hope,” the Pontiff said from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to the crowds gathered in the square below on a sunny morning.
Hundreds of millions more people, in 67 countries, followed the event on radio or television.
Benedict XVI said in his message that his “thoughts go to recent events in Madagascar, in the Solomon Islands, in Latin America and in other regions of the world.”
“I am thinking of the scourge of hunger, of incurable diseases, of terrorism and kidnapping of people, of the thousand faces of violence which some people attempt to justify in the name of religion, of contempt for life, of the violation of human rights and the exploitation of persons,” he said.
In particular, the Pontiff mentioned the several regions in Africa undergoing a “catastrophic” humanitarian situation, including Darfur and surrounding nations.
The Holy Father also mentioned the scourge of violence in Kinshasa in Congo, and in Somalia and Zimbabwe.
Benedict XVI said that “peace is sorely needed” in many places in the world, including East Timor, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
The Pope continued: “In the Middle East, besides some signs of hope in the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian authority, nothing positive comes from Iraq, torn apart by continual slaughter as the civil population flees.
“In Lebanon the paralysis of the country’s political institutions threatens the role that the country is called to play in the Middle East and puts its future seriously in jeopardy.”
The Holy Father then added: “I cannot forget the difficulties faced daily by the Christian communities and the exodus of Christians from that blessed land which is the cradle of our faith. I affectionately renew to these populations the expression of my spiritual closeness.”
The Pope continued: “By his rising the Lord has not taken away suffering and evil from the world, but has vanquished them at their roots by the superabundance of his grace.
“He has countered the arrogance of evil with the supremacy of his love.”
After reading his message, Benedict XVI wished the world a happy Easter in 62 languages and imparted his blessing “urbi et orbi.”
In English, the Pope said: “May the grace and joy of the Risen Christ be with you all.”
In the afternoon the Holy Father departed for the summer papal residence at Castel Gandolfo, some 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Rome, to rest for a few days.
The Pontiff will return to Rome before his 80th birthday, April 16, and the second anniversary of his election as Pope, April 19.