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“Jesus is risen!” – “He is truly risen, as he said!”
Those were Pope Francis’ words as he delivered his traditional Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) message from the central loggia of St Peter’s Basilica on a sunny Easter Sunday.
The Pope said that “by his resurrection, Jesus Christ has set us free from the slavery of sin and death, and has opened before us the way to eternal life.”
In every age, the Holy Father underlined, “the Risen Shepherd tirelessly seeks us, his brothers and sisters, wandering in the deserts of this world. He goes in search of all those lost in the labyrinths of loneliness and marginalization. He takes upon himself all those victimized by old and new forms of slavery,… and takes upon himself children and adolescents deprived of their carefree innocence…”
The Risen Shepherd continued Pope Francis walks beside all those forced to leave their homelands as a result of armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, famine and oppressive regimes. He also prayed that the Risen Lord would grant the leaders of nations the courage they need to prevent the spread of conflicts and to put a halt to the arms trade.
During his address the Pope prayed for peace in the Middle East especially in war torn Syria recalling Saturday’s attack which killed dozens of people near the city of Aleppo, calling it “the latest vile attack on fleeing refugees”.
He also looked to the African Continent praying that the Good Shepherd would remain close to the people of South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, who, he said, “endure continuing hostilities, aggravated by the grave famine affecting certain parts of Africa.”
Remembering too Latin America, the Pope shared his hope that it would be possible for bridges of dialogue to be built and to seek viable and peaceful solutions to disputes.
Turning his attention to Europe the Holy Father prayed that the Risen Lord would grant hope to those experiencing moments of crisis and difficulty, especially due to high unemployment, particularly among young people. He also made special mention of Ukraine expressing the hope that the country, “still beset by conflict and bloodshed, would regain social harmony.”
Finally, taking his leave Pope Francis said, “may Jesus, who vanquished the darkness of sin and death, grant peace to our days.”
Pope Francis will wash the feet of inmates at Paliano prison, south of Rome, during the Mass of Our Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday.
The Vatican announced on Thursday that the pope will travel to the penitentiary on the afternoon of April 13th for a private visit and the celebration of Mass marking Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples on the day before his Crucifixion.
Pope Francis began the tradition of travelling to a prison for the traditional Last Supper Mass in March 2013, just a few days after the inauguration of his pontificate. On that occasion he travelled to Rome’s Casal del Marmo youth detention centre where he included, for the first time, women and Muslims among the inmates whose feet he washed.
The following year, he celebrated the Last Supper Mass at Rome’s Don Gnocchi centre for the disabled, again including women among those who had their feet washed in memory of Jesus’ gesture of humility and service.
In 2015 Pope Francis travelled to Rome’s Rebibbia prison for the Holy Thursday celebration, while last year he washed the feet of refugees, including Muslims, Hindus and Coptic Orthodox men and women at a centre for asylum seekers in Castelnuovo di Porto, just north of Rome.