ROME — Pope Francis pointed to the Risen Christ on Easter Sunday as hope for all who are suffering from the coronavirus pandemic.
“The risen Christ is hope for all who continue to suffer from the pandemic, both the sick and those who have lost a loved one,” the pontiff proclaimed during his yearly Easter Urbi et Orbi blessing given in Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
“The Easter message does not offer us a mirage or reveal a magic formula,” Francis warned. “It does not point to an escape from the difficult situation we are experiencing. The pandemic is still spreading, while the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for the poor.”
Nonetheless, in the midst of the fallout both from the disease and for government actions such as lockdowns and the shuttering of businesses and schools, the risen Christ brings hope, he insisted.
“The crucified and risen Lord is comfort for those who have lost their jobs or experience serious economic difficulties and lack adequate social protection,” he said.
“The risen Jesus is hope for all those young people forced to go long periods without attending school or university, or spending time with their friends,” he added. “Experiencing real human relationships, not just virtual relationships, is something that everyone needs, especially at an age when a person’s character and personality is being formed.”
“May the Lord give them comfort and sustain the valiant efforts of doctors and nurses,” he said. “Everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us, requires assistance and has the right to have access to necessary care.”
As he has done on other occasions, the pope also called for an equitable distribution of vaccines.
“Vaccines are an essential tool in this fight,” he said. “I urge the entire international community, in a spirit of global responsibility, to commit to overcoming delays in the distribution of vaccines and to facilitate their distribution, especially in the poorest countries.”
In the midst of such trials and ordeals, the pope said, people have need of a hope that only God can give.
“In the face of, or better, in the midst of this complex reality, the Easter message speaks concisely of the event that gives us the hope that does not disappoint: ‘Jesus who was crucified has risen,’” he said. “It speaks to us not about angels or ghosts, but about a man, a man of flesh and bone, with a face and a name: Jesus.”
“Jesus took upon himself our weakness, our infirmities, even our death,” he said. “He endured our sufferings and bore the weight of our sins. Because of this, God the Father exalted him and now Jesus Christ lives forever; he is the Lord.”
The pope also called for an end to restrictions on worship and religious practice around the world.
“Dear brothers and sisters, once again this year, in various places many Christians have celebrated Easter under severe restrictions and, at times, without being able to attend liturgical celebrations,” he lamented. “We pray that those restrictions, as well as all restrictions on freedom of worship and religion worldwide, may be lifted and everyone be allowed to pray and praise God freely.”