Easter Message Appeals for Peace in Mideast

John Paul II Calls on All Believers to Build "a More Just Humanity"

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 31, 2002 (Zenit.org).- In his Easter message to the world, and the Holy Land in particular, John Paul II expressed his hope for tranquillity in Christ and lamented that it "seems that war has been declared on peace."



"Nothing is resolved by war," the Pope said in St. Peter´s Square before imparting his apostolic blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome and the world).

Tens of thousands of pilgrims crowded St. Peter´s Square for the Easter Mass. The papal address was transmitted live by 63 television channels in 50 countries.

John Paul II seemed in better health than in previous days. He personally celebrated the Mass, after having presided over the three-hour Easter Vigil the night before.

Reading his Easter message in Italian, with a clear and firm voice, the Holy Father highlighted the peace proclaimed by Christ with his resurrection.

Peace "in the manner of the world -- the experience of every age shows it -- is often a precarious balance of powers, that sooner or later turn against one another once more," the Pope explained.

"The peace which is the gift of the risen Christ is deep and complete, and can reconcile man with God, with himself, and with creation," the Pontiff emphasized.

Hence, John Paul II exhorted "all the world´s believers" to "join their efforts to build a more just and fraternal humanity; may they work tirelessly to ensure that religious convictions may never be the cause of division and hatred, but only and always a source of brotherhood, harmony, love."

The English translation of John Paul II´s address, distributed by the Vatican, said: "Christian communities on every continent, with trepidation and hope I ask you to proclaim that Jesus is truly risen, and to work so that his peace may bring an end to the tragic sequence of atrocities and killings that bloody the Holy Land, plunged again in these very days into horror and despair."

"It seems that war has been declared on peace! But nothing is resolved by war, it only brings greater suffering and death; nothing is resolved through reprisal and retaliation," the Pope continued.

"No one can remain silent and inactive, no political or religious leader! Denunciation must be followed by practical acts of solidarity that will help everyone to rediscover mutual respect and return to frank negotiation," the Holy Father stressed.

He also mentioned the situation in other countries in which "we hear the cry of those who implore help, because they are suffering and dying."

This cry is especially intense in Afghanistan, "terribly afflicted in recent months, and now stricken by a disastrous earthquake," the Pope said.

Moreover, there are "so many other countries of the world where social imbalances and rival ambitions still torment numbers of our brothers and sisters," the Pope reminded his listeners.

John Paul II ended his message with a familiar appeal that marked the start of his pontificate: "Open your hearts to Christ, crucified and risen, who comes with the offer of peace! Wherever the risen Christ enters, he brings with him true peace!"

Following his message, the Holy Father expressed Easter greetings in 62 languages, including Hebrew and Arabic.