print

On the morning of Easter Sunday 2024, Pope Francis presided over Mass in St. Peter’s Square before delivering his urbi et orbi message and blessing from the central loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica in the presence of an estimated 60,000 people. “Urbi et orbi” means “To the city [of Rome] and the world.” It is a special apostolic blessing given by the pope every year on Easter Sunday, Christmas, and other special occasions. Today throughout the world there resounds the message proclaimed 2,000 years ago from Jerusalem: “Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, has been raised!” (Mk 16:6).

The Church relives the amazement of the women who went to the tomb at dawn on the first day of the week. The tomb of Jesus had been sealed with a great stone. Today too, great stones, heavy stones, block the hopes of humanity: the stone of war, the stone of humanitarian crises, the stone of human rights violations, the stone of human trafficking, and other stones as well. Like the women disciples of Jesus, we ask one another: “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” (cf. Mk 16:3).

This is the amazing discovery of that Easter morning: The stone, the immense stone, was rolled away. The astonishment of the women is our astonishment as well: The tomb of Jesus is open, and it is empty! From this, everything begins anew! A new path leads through that empty tomb: The path that none of us, but God alone, could open: the path of life amid death, the path of peace amid war, the path of reconciliation amid hatred, the path of fraternity amid hostility.

Brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ is risen! He alone has the power to roll away the stones that block the life path. He, the living One, is himself on that path. He is the Way: the way that leads to life, the way of peace, reconciliation, and fraternity. He opens that path, humanly impossible because he alone takes away the sin of the world and forgives us our sins. For without God’s forgiveness, that stone cannot be removed. Without the forgiveness of sins, there is no overcoming the barriers of prejudice, mutual recrimination, and the presumption that we are always right and others wrong. Only the risen Christ, by granting us the forgiveness of our sins, opens the way for a renewed world.

Jesus alone opens up before us the doors of life, those doors that continually we shut with the wars spreading throughout the world. Today we want, first and foremost, to turn our eyes to the holy city of Jerusalem, which witnessed the mystery of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and to all the Christian communities of the Holy Land.

My thoughts go especially to the victims of the many conflicts worldwide, beginning with those in Israel and Palestine, and in Ukraine. May the risen Christ open a path of peace for the war-torn peoples of those regions. In calling for respect for the principles of international law, I express my hope for a general exchange of all prisoners between Russia and Ukraine: all for the sake of all!

I appeal once again that access to humanitarian aid be ensured in Gaza, and call once more for the prompt release of the hostages seized on 7 October last and for an immediate cease-fire in the Strip

Let us not allow the current hostilities to continue to have grave repercussions on the civil population, by now at the limit of its endurance, and above all on the children. How much suffering we see in the eyes of the children: The children in those lands at war have forgotten how to smile! With those eyes, they ask us: Why? Why all this death? Why all this destruction? War is always an absurdity, war is always a defeat! Let us not allow the strengthening winds of war to blow on Europe and the Mediterranean. Let us not yield to the logic of weapons and rearming. Peace is never made with arms but with outstretched hands and open hearts.

Brothers and sisters, let us not forget Syria, which for 13 years has suffered from the effects of a long and devastating war. So many deaths and disappearances, so much poverty and destruction call for a response on the part of everyone, and of the international community.

My thoughts turn today in a special way to Lebanon, which has for some time experienced institutional impasse and a deepening economic and social crisis, now aggravated by the hostilities on its border with Israel. May the risen Lord console the beloved Lebanese people and sustain the entire country in its vocation to be a land of encounter, coexistence, and pluralism.

I also think in particular of the region of the Western Balkans, where significant steps are being taken toward integration in the European project. May ethnic, cultural, and confessional differences not be a cause of division but rather a source of enrichment for all of Europe and for the world as a whole?

I likewise encourage the discussions taking place between Armenia and Azerbaijan, so that, with the support of the international community, they can pursue dialogue, assist the displaced, respect the places of worship of the various religious confessions, and arrive as soon as possible at a definitive peace agreement.

May the risen Christ open a path of hope to all those who in other parts of the world are suffering from violence, conflict, food insecurity, and the effects of climate change. May the Lord grant consolation to the victims of terrorism in all its forms. Let us pray for all those who have lost their lives and implore the repentance and conversion of the perpetrators of those crimes.

May the risen Lord assist the Haitian people, so that there can soon be an end to the acts of violence, devastation, and bloodshed in that country, and that it can advance on the path to democracy and fraternity.

May Christ grant consolation and strength to the Rohingya, beset by a grave humanitarian crisis, and open a path to reconciliation in Myanmar, torn for years now by internal conflicts, so that every logic of violence may be definitively abandoned.

May the Lord open paths of peace on the African continent, especially for the suffering peoples in Sudan and in the entire region of the Sahel, in the Horn of Africa, in the region of Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in the province of Capo Delgado in Mozambique, and bring an end to the prolonged situation of drought, which affects vast areas and provokes famine and hunger.

May the Risen One make the light of his face shine upon migrants and on all those who are passing through a period of economic difficulty, and offer them consolation and hope in their moment of need. May Christ guide all persons of goodwill to unite themselves in solidarity, in order to address together the many challenges that loom over the poorest families in their search for a better life and happiness.

On this day when we celebrate the life given us in the resurrection of the Son, let us remember the infinite love of God for each of us: a love that overcomes every limit and every weakness. And yet how much the precious gift of life is despised! How many children cannot even be born? How many die of hunger and are deprived of essential care or are victims of abuse and violence? How many lives are made objects of trafficking for the increasing commerce in human beings?

Brothers and sisters, on the day when Christ has set us free from the slavery of death, I appeal to all who have political responsibilities to spare no efforts in combatting the scourge of human trafficking, by working tirelessly to dismantle the networks of exploitation, and to bring freedom to those who are their victims. May the Lord comfort their families, above all those who anxiously await news of their loved ones, and ensure their comfort and hope.

May the light of the Resurrection illuminate our minds convert our hearts, and make us aware of the value of every human life, which must be welcomed, protected, and loved.

A happy Easter to all!