Holy Father expresses closeness to victims of church bombings in Sri Lanka
Christ’s resurrection ushers in a new world – one of peace, love, and fraternity, Pope Francis said on Easter Sunday, as he prayed for the many people who are suffering throughout the world.
“Christ is alive and he remains with us. Risen, he shows us the light of his face, and he does not abandon all those experiencing hardship, pain and sorrow,” Pope Francis said April 21.
“Yet Easter is also the beginning of the new world, set free from the slavery of sin and death: the world open at last to the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of love, peace and fraternity.”
Pope Francis gave the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing from the central loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica following Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square.
He forwent giving a homily at Mass this year, and instead paused for a moment of silent reflection following the Gospel.
“Urbi et Orbi” means “To the City [of Rome] and to the World” and is a special apostolic blessing given by the pope every year on Easter Sunday, Christmas, and other special occasions.
Christ’s resurrection is “the principle of new life for every man and every woman,” the pope said in his blessing, explaining that “true renewal always begins from the heart, from the conscience.”
Francis prayed for the many people throughout the world living in places experiencing conflict, tension, and violence.
Beginning with Syria, he said there is a risk of becoming resigned and indifferent to the ongoing conflict in that country and emphasized that now is the time for a renewed commitment to a political solution for the humanitarian crisis in the country.
People there are hoping for “freedom, peace and justice,” he said, urging solutions for a safe re-entry to the country for those who have been displaced, especially in Lebanon and Jordan.
The pope prayed for Christians in the Middle East, particularly in Yemen, that they would continue to “patiently persevere in their witness to the Risen Lord and to the victory of life over death.”
“May the light of Easter illumine all government leaders and peoples in the Middle East, beginning with Israelis and Palestinians, and spur them to alleviate such great suffering and to pursue a future of peace and stability,” he stated.
He begged for an end to conflict and bloodshed in Libya, and for peace on the entire African conflict, particularly in the countries of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sudan, and South Sudan.
Recalling the spiritual retreat held at the Vatican earlier this month for several religious and political leaders of South Sudan, he prayed for the opening of “a new page” in the history of the country.
Francis prayed for the peace of Easter to bring comfort to the people of the eastern regions of Ukraine.
For the American continent, he invoked the joy of the resurrection for all those experiencing difficult political and economic situations.
Underlining the situations in Venezuela and Nicaragua, he asked the Lord to “grant that all those with political responsibilities may work to end social injustices, abuses and acts of violence, and take the concrete steps needed to heal divisions and offer the population the help they need.”
Let there be an end to the arms race and to the “troubling spread of weaponry,” he added.
“Before the many sufferings of our time, may the Lord of life not find us cold and indifferent. May he make us builders of bridges, not walls,” Francis stated.
He added: “May the Risen Christ, who flung open the doors of the tomb, open our hearts to the needs of the disadvantaged, the vulnerable, the poor, the unemployed, the marginalized, and all those who knock at our door in search of bread, refuge, and the recognition of their dignity.”
“Today the Church renews the proclamation made by the first disciples: ‘Jesus is risen!’ And from mouth to mouth, from heart to heart, there resounds a call to praise: ‘Alleluia, Alleluia!’” he rejoiced.
Quoting from Christus vivit, his recently-published apostolic exhortation on young people, the pope said “Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive! He is in you, he is with you and he never abandons you.”
“However far you may wander, he is always there, the Risen One. He calls you and he waits for your to return to him and start over again.”
At the end of the blessing, Pope Francis expressed his sorrow for several bombings which took place in churches and hotels in Sri Lanka Sunday morning. More than 100 people were killed and hundreds injured in explosions at three luxury hotels and three churches.
St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Catholic parish in Negombo were targeted, as well as the evangelical Zion Church in Batticaolo.
Francis entrusted to the Lord those who have died and been wounded, and all who are suffering because of the attack: “I wish to express my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, struck while it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence,” he said.
The pope wished all those gathered in St. Peter’s Square, and all those participating via radio or television, a happy Easter, noting that it was on Easter Sunday 70 years ago that a pope spoke for the first time on television.
Venerable Pope Pius XII addressed the viewers of French TV, “underlining how the eyes of the Successor of Peter and the faithful could also meet through a new means of communication,” he said.
“This occasion offers me the opportunity to encourage Christian communities to use all the tools that the technique makes available to announce the good news of the risen Christ.”
Francis also thanked the donors of the flowers in St. Peter’s Basilica and Square, which came from the Netherlands and Slovenia.
“Enlightened by the light of Easter, we carry the scent of the Risen Christ into the solitude, into the misery, into the suffering of so many of our brothers, reversing the stone of indifference,” he concluded.
A plenary indulgence, or the remittance of temporal punishment due to sins which have already been forgiven, is granted to those who participate in the Urbi et Orbi blessing in person or through radio, television, or the internet.
The usual conditions for a plenary indulgence must be met: the individual must be in the state of grace and have complete detachment from sin. The person must also pray for the pope’s intentions and sacramentally confess their sins and receive Communion up to about twenty days before or after the indulgenced act.