Easter Sunday: Pope appeals for peace in Iraq and Holy Land

 Benedict XVI celebrated the Easter Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord at 10.30 this morning in St Peter's Square, which was decorated, as has become traditional, with flowers, shrubs and flowering plants from Holland. At midday, from the central loggia of the basilica, he pronounced his first Easter Message, expressed Easter greetings in 63 languages and imparted his "Urbi et Orbi" blessing. On the day of his own 79th birthday and three days before the first anniversary of his election as Pope, the Holy Father said: "Today, even in this modern age marked by anxiety and uncertainty, we relive the event of the Resurrection, which changed the face of our life and changed the history of humanity. From the risen Christ, all those who are still oppressed by chains of suffering and death look for hope, sometimes even without knowing it. "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 frica, of the Ivory Coast, Uganda, Zimbabwe and other nations which aspire to reconciliation, justice and progress." Turning to the situation in Iraq, he expressed the hope that peace may "finally prevail over the tragic violence that continues mercilessly to claim victims. 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." In this context, he called on the international community, "which re-affirms Israel's just right to exist in peace," to "assist the Palestinian people to overcome the precarious conditions in which they live and to build their future, moving towards the constitution of a State that is truly their own." "May the Spirit of the Risen One enkindle a renewed enthusiastic commitment of the countries of Latin America," he went on, "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. "Concerning the international crises linked to nuclear power, may an honourable 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." The Holy Father concluded by calling on humankind in the third millennium not to be afraid, but to open their hearts to the Risen Christ. "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! 'Christus resurrexit, quia Deus caritas est! Alleluia!'. Source: VIS

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