Pope asks Christians to become 'apostles of peace'

By staff writers
April 9, 2007

In a world marked by violence and injustice, Christians are called to be "apostles of peace" - that was the message of Pope Benedict XVI in his traditional Easter message delivered from St Peter's Basilica on Sunday.

The pontiff, leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics also used his 'Urbi et Orbi' ('to the city and the world') address to stress that the horrific slaughter going on Iraq was a road to nowhere, and to back Catholic bishops and human rights campaigners in Zimbabwe.

The title of the Pope's message dates back to Roman imperial times - but these days, the Vatican stresses, it is about the Christian "sovereignty of love" rather than the power of force.

Benedict marked the second Easter of his pontificate by appealing “to brothers and sisters in faith who are listening to me from every part of the world” to unite in the peacemaking vocation and to be signs of hope to those wracked by doubts, fears and pain.

He also decried unrest in Afghanistan and firmly denounced the use of violence in the name of religion and God.

“How many wounds, how much suffering there is in the world,” the pope told tens of thousands of pilgrims, tourists and locals gathered in St Peter’s Square here. “Natural calamities and human tragedies that cause innumerable victims and enormous material destruction are not lacking. Peace is sorely needed.”

Benedict contrasted the Easter celebration of the Resurrection as “the great mystery, the foundation of Christian faith and hope” with a cataloguing of some of world current tragedies.

He said that he was thinking of “the scourge of hunger, of incurable diseases, of terrorism and kidnapping of people, of the thousand faces of violence which some people attempt to justify in the name of religion, of contempt for life, of the violation of human rights and the exploitation of persons.”

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