On Divine Mercy and the Catholic Family
"It Is the Merciful Love of God that Solidly Unites the Church"
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
On this Sunday that concludes the Easter Octave I renew from my heart fervent Easter wishes to you who are present and to those who are joining us through radio and television broadcasts. In the climate of joy that comes from the faith in the risen Christ, I would like to express a most cordial "thank you" to all of those -- and there are truly many -- who wanted to send me a sign of affection and spiritual nearness whether for the Easter festivities or for my birthday -- April 16 -- or for the anniversary of my election to the Chair of Peter which recurs today. I thank the Lord for this symphony of so much affection. As I was able to affirm recently, I never feel alone.
Even more in this singular week, which, for the liturgy, constitutes a single day, I experienced the communion that surrounds and sustains me: a spiritual solidarity, essentially nourished by prayer, which is manifested in thousands of ways. From my colleagues in the Roman Curia to the parishes that are geographically most distant, we Catholics form -- and we must feel that we are -- one family, animated by the same sentiments of the first Christian community, of which the text of the Acts of the Apostles, which we read this Sunday, says: "The community of believers were of one heart and one soul" (Acts 4:32).
The communion of the first Christians had the risen Christ as true center and foundation. The Gospel says that, in the moment of the Passion, when the Divine Master was arrested and condemned to death, the disciples were dispersed. Only Mary and the women, with the apostle John, remain together and follow him to Calvary.
Resurrected, Jesus grants a new unity to his followers, stronger than before, invincible, because it is based not on human resources, but on divine mercy, which makes them all feel loved and forgiven by him. Therefore it is the merciful love of God that solidly unites the Church, today as yesterday, and that makes humanity a single family, divine love, which through Jesus crucified and risen forgives our sins and renews us interiorly. Animated by such a deep conviction, my beloved predecessor, John Paul II, desired that this Sunday, the second Sunday of Easter, be named Divine Mercy Sunday, and pointed to the risen Christ as the font of confidence and hope, welcoming the spiritual message given by the Lord to St. Faustina Kowalska, synthesized in the invocation: "Jesus, I trust in you."
As for the first community, it is Mary who accompanies us in life every day. We invoke her as "Queen of Heaven," knowing that her royalty is like that of her Son: all love, and merciful love. I ask you again to entrust to her my service to the Church, while with confidence we say to her: "Mater misericordiae, ora pro nobis [Mother of mercy, pray for us.]"
[After the Regina Caeli the Pope said:]
First of all I address a cordial greeting and fervent wishes to the brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches that, following the Julian calendar, celebrate Holy Easter today. May the risen Lord renew the light of faith in all and give abundance of joy and peace.
A conference organized by the United Nations on the 2001 Durban Declaration against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance will begin tomorrow in Geneva. This is an important initiative because still today, despite the lessons of history, these deplorable phenomena continue. The Durban Declaration recognizes that "all peoples and individuals constitute one human family, rich in diversity. They have contributed to the progress of civilizations and cultures that form the common heritage of humanity. Preservation and promotion of tolerance, pluralism and respect for diversity can produce more inclusive societies."
These affirmations lead to the demand for firm and concrete action, at the national and international levels, to prevent and eliminate every form of discrimination and intolerance. There must be a vast educational undertaking that exalts the dignity of the person and teaches fundamental rights. The Church, for her part, repeats that only the recognition of the dignity of man, created in the image and likeness of God, can constitute a secure reference for such a task. From this common origin, in fact, there flows a common human destiny that must awaken in everyone and all a strong sense of solidarity and responsibility. I pray that the delegates present at the conference in Geneva will be able to work together, in the spirit of dialogue and reciprocal acceptance, to put an end to every form of racism, discrimination and intolerance, marking in this way a fundamental step toward the affirmation of the universal value of the dignity of man and his rights, in a horizon of respect and justice for every person and people.
[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
[The Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]
I am happy to greet all the English-speaking visitors present for today's Regina Caeli prayer, including the group from Dulwich Preparatory School, Cranbrook in Kent. As we rejoice in the new life that the Risen Christ has won for us, let us renew our resolve to be faithful to our baptismal promises by rejecting Satan and living according to the example of the Lord. In our prayer we commend our perseverance to the intercession of Mary, Queen of Heaven. Upon all of you I invoke God's abundant blessings of peace and joy!
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