Pope in Easter message warns EU faces "epochal challenge"

Pope Francis during the Easter Sunday Mass in St Peter's Basilica
 VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis cautioned Sunday in his Easter Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) address that the European Union is facing "an epochal challenge" that could destabilise the planet if "rivalries" between member states over the Coronavirus economic response tear the continent apart.
 "Among  the  many  areas  of  the  world  affected  by  the coronavirus, I think in a special way of Europe," the pontiff said after celebrating an Easter Sunday Mass in an almost empty St Peter's Basilica. During the Mass beamed live to millions on internet streaming and television, Francis did not pronounce a homily but instead called for a moment of silence in memory of all those who have died from Coronavirus.
 "After the Second World War, this continent was able to rise again, thanks to a concrete spirit of solidarity that enabled it to overcome the rivalries of the past.  It is more urgent than ever, especially in the present circumstances, that these rivalries do not regain force, but that all recognize themselves as part of a single family and support one another."
  "The European Union is presently facing an epochal challenge, on which will depend not only its future but that of the whole world. Let us not lose the opportunity to give further proof of solidarity, also by turning to innovative solutions," Francis said, "the only alternative is the selfishness of particular interests and the temptation of a return to the past, at the risk of severely damaging the peaceful coexistence and development of future generations. This is not a time for division."
 The Argentine pope also reiterated his call for an end to war and international sanctions. "May Christ our peace enlighten all who have responsibility in conflicts, that they may have the courage to support the appeal for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. This is not a time for continuing to manufacture and deal in arms, spending vast amounts of money that ought to be used to care for others and save lives. "
  Francis began his message by saying that his "thoughts turn in the first place to the many who have been directly affected by the coronavirus: the sick, those who have died and family members who mourn the loss of their loved ones, to whom, in some cases, they were unable even to bid a final farewell." 
 "May the Lord of life welcome the departed into his kingdom and grant comfort and hope to those still suffering, especially the elderly and those who are alone. " 
 "May he never withdraw his consolation and help from those who are especially vulnerable, such as persons who work in nursing homes, or live in barracks and prisons." 
 "For many, this is an Easter of solitude lived amid the sorrow and hardship that the pandemic is causing, from physical suffering to economic difficulties."
 "This  disease has not only deprived us of human closeness, but also of the  possibility  of receiving in person the consolation that flows from the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and Reconciliation," Francis continued. 
 "In many countries, it has not been possible to approach them, but the Lord has not left us alone!  United in our prayer, we are convinced that he has laid his hand upon us (cf. Ps 138:5), firmly reassuring us: Do not be afraid, “I have risen and I am with you still!” (cf. Roman Missal, Entrance Antiphon, Mass of Easter Sunday). May Jesus, our Passover, grant strength and hope to doctors and nurses, who everywhere offer a witness of care and love for our neighbours, to the point of exhaustion and not infrequently at the expense of their own health."  
 "Our gratitude and affection go to them, to all who work diligently to guarantee the essential services necessary for civil society, and to the law enforcement and military personnel who in many countries have helped ease people’s difficulties and sufferings."
 The pope added that "in these weeks, the lives of millions of people have suddenly changed.  For many, remaining at home has been an opportunity to reflect, to withdraw from the frenetic pace of life, stay with loved ones and enjoy their company.  For many, though, this is also a time of worry about an uncertain future, about jobs that are at risk and about other consequences of the current crisis."
  "I encourage political leaders to work actively for the common good, to provide the means and resources needed to enable everyone to lead a dignified life and, when circumstances allow, to assist them in resuming their normal daily activities. This is not a time for indifference, because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in  facing  the  pandemic."
  "May  the  risen  Jesus  grant  hope  to  all  the  poor,  to  those  living  on  the peripheries, to refugees and the homeless.  May these, the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters living in the cities and peripheries of every part of the world, not be abandoned.  Let us ensure that they do not lack basic necessities (all the more difficult to find now that many businesses are closed) such  as  medicine  and  especially  the  possibility  of  adequate  health  care."     
 "Today the Church’s proclamation echoes throughout the world: “Jesus Christ is risen!” – “He is truly risen!”. Like a new flame this Good News springs up in the night: the night of a world already faced with epochal challenges and now oppressed by a pandemic severely testing our whole human family.  In this night, the Church’s voice rings out: “Christ, my hope, is risen!” (Easter Sequence)."
 "This is a different “contagion”, a message transmitted from heart to heart – for every human heart awaits this Good News.  It is the contagion of hope: “Christ, my hope, is risen!”.  This is no magic formula that makes problems vanish.  No, the resurrection of Christ is not that.  Instead, it is the victory of love over the root of evil, a victory that does not “by-pass” suffering and death, but passes through them, opening a path in the abyss, transforming evil into good: this is the unique hallmark of the power of God. The Risen Lord is also the Crucified One, not someone else.  In his glorious body he bears indelible wounds: wounds that have become windows of hope.  Let us turn our gaze to him that he may heal the wounds of an afflicted humanity," Pope Francis said.