"This is the day when, like the disciples, every believer is invited to proclaim the amazing newness of the Gospel. But how can this message of joy and hope be made to resound when many parts of the world are submerged in sorrow and tears? How can we speak of peace, when people are forced to flee, when they are hunted down and their homes are burnt to the ground?" This was the paradox facing the Holy Father in his Easter Message "Urbi et Orbi" (To the City of Rome and to the World). Fifty thousand faithful crowded into St. Peter's Square to hear his words.
    The dramatic situation affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of persons in Kosovo, "where tears and blood continue to mingle in a tragic spectacle of hatred and violence," has become the concern that constantly marks the words of the Holy Father.
    At the beginning of the Easter Mass, John Paul II asked all the faithful to pray for peace in the Balkans, "for respect for human rights in those lands and for the human river of refugees forced to leave their homes and seek shelter in nearby countries." The Balkans, however, are not the only place where people are turned against one another in violence. The Pope expressed his concerns for Africa, "where the distressing fires of war are slow to disappear," Asia, "where dangerous social tensions are far from abating," and the countries of Latin America, who are "committed to advancing on their laborious and uneven path towards goals of greater justice and democracy."

6/04/99 10:12:16 / Zenit


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