Easter, Pope Francis warns the world: “Pandemic wars are a scandal”
Easter does not show a mirage, it does not reveal a magic formula, it does not indicate an escape route in the face of the difficult situation we are going through. “The pandemic – Pope Francis explained yesterday – is still in full swing; the social and economic crisis is very heavy, especially for the poorest; despite this – and it is scandalous – the armed conflicts do not cease and the military arsenals are strengthened.” The second Easter in a time of Coronavirus pandemic. The pontifex after Mass at the Altar of the Chair in the Vatican Basilica, this morning addresses the Easter Message to the faithful who listen to him through radio, television, and other means of communication, shortly before the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing which, in respect of the anti-Covid rules and to avoid gatherings in St. Peter’s Square, it does not take place as a tradition from the central Loggia of the Basilica itself.
Last year, he did it from the Hall of Blessings of the Apostolic Palace. Yesterday, from the Altar of the Chair. In his words, which reflect the concerns and priorities at the international level, the echo of these difficult months. “The Christ resurrection is hope for those who still suffer from the pandemic, for the sick and for those who have lost a loved one”. He said, adding: “May the Lord give them comfort and support the labor of doctors and nurses. Everyone, especially the most fragile people, needs assistance and has the right to have access to the necessary care. That is even more evident in this time when we are all called to fight the pandemic and vaccines are an essential tool for this fight.”
Francis, in the wake of a concern that was also expressed by the President of the European Commission von der Leyen, in the spirit of an internationalism of vaccines, pushes “the entire international community to a shared commitment to overcome the delays in their distribution and encourage sharing, especially with the poorest countries “. On this point, the line of the Holy See is clear: the efforts of the international community must be the safeguarding of world health.
Not surprisingly, in the words of the pontifex, there are difficulties “for those who have lost their jobs or are going through serious economic difficulties and lack adequate social protection”. “May the Lord – he continues – inspire the action of the public authorities so that all, especially the neediest families, are offered the necessary help for adequate aid. Unfortunately, the pandemic has dramatically increased the number of poor people and the desperation of thousands across the globe. ‘Poor people of all kinds need to start hoping again’, said Saint John Paul II on his trip to Haiti. And my thoughts and encouragement go to the dear Haitian people on this day, so that they are not overwhelmed by difficulties, but look to the future with trust and hope.”
The Pope, who flew to Myanmar in 2017 asking the generals to safeguard the rights of minorities and those who have no voice, also has in mind the “many young people who have been forced to spend long periods without attending school or university and share time with friends.” He explained: “we need to live real human relationships and not just virtual ones, especially at the age in which character and personality are formed. I am close to young people from all over the world and, at this time, especially to those of Myanmar, who are committed to democracy, making their voices heard peacefully, aware that hatred can only be dispelled by love.”
In July 2013, Francis went, for the first time outside the Vatican walls, to Lampedusa for a penitential day in the heart of the suffering Mediterranean where thousands of refugees lose their lives. And today he still remembers “migrants, fleeing war and misery”. “In their faces – he says – we recognize the disfigured and suffering face of the Lord who goes up to Calvary. May they not lack concrete signs of solidarity and human fraternity, a pledge of the victory of life over death that we celebrate on this day.” The Pope thanks the countries that generously welcome the suffering who seek refuge, especially Lebanon and Jordan, which are hosting many refugees who fled the Syrian conflict.
Returning from Iraq last month, Francis said he wanted a trip to Lebanon. “The Lebanese people – he says today -, who are going through a period of difficulty and uncertainty, experience the consolation of the risen Lord and be supported by the international community in their vocation to be a land of encounter, coexistence, and pluralism”. While he still speaks of Iraq today: “I pray that he may continue the path of pacification he has undertaken, so that God’s dream of a hospitable and welcoming human family towards all his children may be realized”.
Although a trip to Syria is not planned soon, the arrival in Iraq was also in some way a tribute to Syria, land of conquest by Isis like the nearby region between the two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. Syria is always in the Pope’s thoughts. “Christ our peace – he says not by chance – finally make the roar of weapons cease in beloved and tormented Syria, where millions of people now live-in inhuman conditions, as well as in Yemen, whose events are surrounded by a deafening and scandalous silence, and in Libya, where we can finally see the way out of a decade of bloody strife and clashes. All the parties involved should effectively commit themselves to putting an end to conflicts and allowing war-weary peoples to live in peace and to start the reconstruction of their respective countries.” The Pope dedicated heartfelt words to Yemen and its humanitarian crisis in 2019, arriving in Abu Dhabi. And so, several times, to Libya.
With the change of administration in Washington, the Holy See’s line on Jerusalem is always the same: work for peace and insist on seeking a solution in two states, so that the holy city is a meeting place where everyone can feel like brothers, and where Israelis and Palestinians rediscover the strength of dialogue to reach a stable solution, which sees two states live side by side in peace and prosperity.
The Pope dreams of a trip to South Sudan, after visiting Mozambique and Madagascar in September 2019. The African populations are in the heart of the Pope, who see their future compromised by internal violence and international terrorism, especially in the Sahel and Nigeria, as well as in the Tigray and Cabo Delgado region. “May the efforts continue – he says – to find peaceful solutions to conflicts, respecting human rights and the sacredness of life, with fraternal and constructive dialogue in a spirit of reconciliation and effective solidarity. There are still too many wars and too much violence in the world! May the Lord, who is our peace, help us to overcome the mentality of war. May he grant those who are prisoners in conflicts, especially in eastern Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabakh, to return safely to their families, and inspire rulers around the world to curb the race for new weapons”.
Yesterday, April 4, marks the World Day against landmines, “devious and horrible devices that kill or injure many innocent people every year and prevent humanity from walking together on the paths of life, without fear of the dangers of destruction and death.” The Pope explains, suggesting how beautiful the world can be without these death instruments.