A blood-stained statue of Christ is seen after a bombing at St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019. (CNS photo/Reuters)
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Only risen Christ can bring peace to world at war

Originally Appeared in : 9909-4/25/19

As the machine of warfare continues to churn out more dangerous weaponry, only the power and joy of Christ’s resurrection can fill hearts with comfort and peace, Pope Francis said before giving his Easter blessing.

 

“May the one who gives us his peace end the roar of arms — both in areas of conflict and in our cities — and inspire the leaders of nations to work for an end to the arms race and the troubling spread of weaponry, especially in the economically more advanced countries,” the pope said as he prepared April 21 to give his Easter blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world).

 

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is not only the start of a true renewal that “begins from the heart, from the conscience” but also the beginning of a new world “free from the slavery of sin and death” and now open to God’s kingdom of “love, peace and fraternity,” he said.

President of USCCB responds to Easter bombings

“This morning in Sri Lanka a coordinated series of bombings killed hundreds of worshipers in Catholic Churches and others of all faiths in nearby hotels. The Churches were St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo and Zion Church in the eastern city of Batticaloa. This great evil targeted these churches as they were packed full of worshipers who were celebrating Easter, the day in which Christians around the world celebrate the rising of the King of Peace from the dead. We offer our prayers for the victims and their families. And we join with all people of good will in condemning these acts of terrorism. This evil cannot overcome the hope found in our Savior’s Resurrection. May the God of hope who has raised his Son, fill all hearts with the desire for peace.”

 

Galveston–Houston’s archbishop, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of catholic Bishops (USCCB)

 

The pope’s prayer for peace came a few hours after news broke of multiple bombs that exploded in several churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, killing and wounding hundreds in the capital city of Colombo and the neighboring cities of Negombo and Batticaloa.

 

After giving his blessing, the pope expressed “sadness and pain” at the attack before leading the crowd in several moments of silent prayer for the victims.

 

“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,” the pope said. “I entrust to the Lord all those who have been tragically lost and I pray for the wounded and all those who suffer because of this tragic event.”

 

Pope Francis did not deliver a homily during the Mass; instead, an announcer invited the crowd to remain in silent prayer for several minutes. As a hushed silence filled the packed square, Pope Francis remained with eyes closed, hands folded and head bowed in prayerful reflection.

 

Standing on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica after celebrating the morning Mass, the pope prayed that the risen Christ shine his light upon “those experiencing hardship, pain and suffering,” especially in Syria, Yemen, Libya and the Holy Land.

 

“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 said.

 

The pope prayed that Jesus would bring peace to the African continent, which he said was “still rife with social tensions, conflicts and at times violent forms of extremism that leave in their wake insecurity, destruction and death, especially in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon.”

 

He also prayed for peace in Sudan as well as neighboring South Sudan, whose leaders were recently at the Vatican for a spiritual retreat.

 

“May a new page open in the history of that country, in which all political, social and religious components actively commit themselves to the pursuit of the common good and the reconciliation of the nation,” the pope said.

 

Turning his attention toward Latin America, Pope Francis prayed for peace in Nicaragua so that a “negotiated solution” would bring peace to its people.

 

The pope prayed that political leaders in the country would put an “end to social injustices, abuses and acts of violence” while taking concrete steps “to heal divisions and offer the population the help they need.”

 

“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,” he said.

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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