Pope's Easter mood joyful, anguished

April 12, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

VATICAN CITY -- Easter came to the Vatican, bringing pilgrims' awe and echoes of the "atrocious drama" of war.

Under gray skies, tens of thousands shared St. Peter's Square with Pope John Paul II yesterday, colorful banks of flowers and helmeted Swiss Guards in a replay of Europe's most hallowed rite of spring.

Pope John Paul, completing his 15th year at the head of the Roman Catholic Church, was of two moods as he celebrated Easter Mass.

"Together with the whole church, I announce a great joy: 'The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon,' " the pontiff said, quoting from the Gospel of Luke. "Christ has truly risen, alleluia."

In world affairs, the pope found less to cheer about, praying that "the paschal announcement loudly resound especially wherever violence, anguish and despair still oppress individuals and families, peoples and nations."

He prayed for tormented African nations, including Angola, Rwanda, Somalia, Togo and Zaire. And he lambasted Europeans and world leaders for their failure to stem tumult ravaging the former Yugoslav federation and parts of the former Soviet Union.

Delivering his traditional Urbi et Orbi Easter address, "To the City and the World," from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, Pope John Paul lectured with force and anger about civil conflicts he has inveighed against time and again.

"How can we keep silent today -- the day of peace -- before the fratricidal struggles causing bloodshed in the region of the Caucasus, before the atrocious drama being relentlessly played out in Bosnia-Herzegovina?" the pope demanded.

"Who will be able to say, 'I did not know?' No one can consider that this tragic situation is not their affair, a situation which humiliates Europe and seriously compromises the future of peace.

"Leaders of nations, men and women of good will, with my heart overflowing with sorrow, I appeal once more to each one of you: Stop this war! Put an end, I beg you, to the unspeakable cruelties whereby human dignity is being violated and God, our just and merciful Father, is being offended," the pope said.

Delivering his traditional Easter blessings -- in 56 languages this year -- the pope began in Italian and ended in Polish. In English, third, he said: "A blessed Easter in the joy of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord and Savior of the world."

The pope, who has already been to Africa this year, journeys to Albania on April 25. In June, he goes to Spain, in August to Jamaica, Mexico and Denver. In September, in the first papal foray into the former Soviet Union, John Paul will call at all three Baltic republics.

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