Pontiff assails human discord Pope's Easter message denounces hatred in world trouble spots


ROME -- In a somber yet passionate Easter message assailing human discord, Pope John Paul II prayed yesterday that the world might find the "courage of forgiveness and reconciliation" to uphold the dignity of the human person.

Remembering all those who "see their future and their existence compromised by war and hatred," John Paul prayed before a crowd of 100,000 in St. Peter's Square for "those who are seeking to consolidate peace and democracy, often obtained at the price of many sacrifices, as in the region of the Balkans, and especially in dear Albania."

The pope also called attention to the sufferings of entire nations "in the heart of the African continent" and prayed for those "who are called to guide by their decisions the concord among different peoples, cultures and religions, as in the Holy Land.

"Our thoughts also go in a special way to the persons who in Lima, in Peru, for long months have been held hostage," he said. "May the freedom they long for be granted them."

After celebrating Mass, John Paul delivered his traditional message "Urbi et Orbi" (To the City and the World) seated on a throne in front of the huge basilica, rather than from the church's main balcony, as is the custom.

The pope, who is 76 and yesterday completed four grueling days of Easter services, showed signs of fatigue. But Vatican officials said the reason for the change of venue was a delay in the Mass that threatened to create scheduling problems for television broadcasting of the service to about 40 countries.

Resplendent in gold robes and a gold-encrusted white miter, John Paul denounced the continued violation of human rights and especially the religious rights of "those brothers in the faith who, in diverse parts of the world, are victims of restrictions or persecutions.

"Let them not feel alone," he said. "Christ is with them; the church is with them."

After delivering his traditional message, John Paul issued Easter greetings in 57 languages, including some of those spoken in regions of conflict such as Serbo-Croatian, Albanian, Arabic, Hebrew and several African languages.

"May the love of Christ, victorious over sin and death, grant to all the courage of forgiveness and reconciliation, without which there can be no solutions worthy of humanity," he said.

In mid-April, John Paul is to resume his travels with an overnight visit to Sarajevo, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is to be followed in mid-May by a visit to Lebanon.

Pub Date: 3/31/97

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