Open hearts to needs of the poor – Pope Francis

BEFORE the many sufferings of our time, may the Lord of life not find us cold and indifferent, prays Pope Francis.

In his Easter message on Saturday, Pope Francis prayed that Jesus “make us builders of bridges, not walls.”

“May the One who gives us his peace end the roar of arms, both in areas of conflict and in our cities, and inspire the leaders of nations to work for an end to the arms race and the troubling spread of weaponry, especially in the economically more advanced countries,” he appealed. “May the Risen Christ, who flung open the doors of the tomb, open our hearts to the needs of the disadvantaged, the vulnerable, the poor, the unemployed, the marginalised, and all those who knock at our door in search of bread, refuge, and the recognition of their dignity.”

Pope Francis called for cessation of conflict and bloodshed in Libya, “where defenceless people are once more dying in recent weeks and many families have been forced to abandon their homes.”

He urged the parties involved to choose dialogue over force and to avoid reopening wounds left by a decade of conflicts and political instability.

“May the Living Christ grant his peace to the entire beloved African continent, still rife with social tensions, conflicts and at times violent forms of extremism that leave in their wake insecurity, destruction and death, especially in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon,” he said. “I think too of Sudan, presently experiencing a moment of political uncertainty; it is my hope that all voices will be heard, and that everyone will work to enable the country to find the freedom, development and well-being to which it has long aspired.”

Pope Francis prayed for a new page to open in the history of South Sudan, “in which all political, social and religious components actively commit themselves to the pursuit of the common good and the reconciliation of the nation.”

“May the joy of the resurrection fill the hearts of those who, on the American continent, are experiencing the effects of difficult political and economic situations,” he said. “I think in particular of the Venezuelan people, of all those who lack the minimal conditions for leading a dignified and secure life due to a crisis that endures and worsens. May the Lord grant that all those with political responsibilities may work to end social injustices, abuses and acts of violence, and take the concrete steps needed to heal divisions and offer the population the help they need.”

The pontiff said the resurrection of Christ was the principle of new life for every man and every woman adding that true renewal always begins from the heart, from the conscience.

“Yet Easter is also the beginning of the new world, set free from the slavery of sin and death: the world open at last to the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of love, peace and fraternity,” he said. “Christ is alive and he remains with us. Risen, he shows us the light of his face, and he does not abandon all those experiencing hardship, pain and sorrow. May he, the Living One, be hope for the beloved Syrian people, victims of an ongoing conflict to which we risk becoming ever more resigned and even indifferent. Now is instead the time for a renewed commitment for a political solution able to respond to people’s legitimate hopes for freedom, peace and justice, confront the humanitarian crisis and favour the secure re-entry of the homeless, along with all those who have taken refuge in neighbouring countries, especially Lebanon and Jordan.”

Pope Francis noted that the Middle East was torn by continuing divisions and tensions.

“May the Christians of the region patiently persevere in their witness to the Risen Lord and to the victory of life over death. I think in particular of the people of Yemen, especially the children, exhausted by hunger and war,” said Pope Francis. “May the light of Easter illumine all government leaders and peoples in the Middle East, beginning with Israelis and Palestinians, and spur them to alleviate such great suffering and to pursue a future of peace and stability.”

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