POPE Francis has prayed that the political and economic planning for recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic would be inspired by concern for the common good and not for “the god, money.”
“Today we pray for government officials, scientists (and) politicians who have begun to study the way out, the post-pandemic, this ‘after’ that already has begun, that they may find the right path always for the benefit of their people,” the Pontiff said at the start of his Easter Monday Mass held in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
A day earlier, Easter Sunday, Pope Francis said Mass under the soaring ceilings of St Peter’s Basilica, that was empty of the faithful.
Outside, St Peter’s Square was also empty, with the usual assembly of dozens of cardinals and tens of thousands of pilgrims from around the world forced to stay away because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead one cardinal – Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St Peter’s Basilica – and a dozen faithful sat inside, one in each pew, before the Altar of the Chair where the Pope celebrated the liturgy.
As a way of bringing hope in a time of calamity, the Holy See streamed the Pope’s message live for a global audience.
Pope Francis called for a “contagion” of Easter hope, peace and care for the poor.
He prayed that Christ, “who has already defeated death and opened for us the way to eternal salvation,” would “dispel the darkness of our suffering humanity and lead us into the light of his glorious day, a day that knows no end.”
The Pope’s traditional Easter message before his blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) still mentioned countries yearning for peace, migrants and refugees in need of a welcoming home and the poor deserving of assistance.
But his Easter Sunday prayers were mostly in the context of the suffering and death caused by the coronavirus and the economic difficulties the pandemic already has triggered.
In Italy COVID-19 has claimed more than 21,000 lives, the highest count in Europe, while in the United States more than 25,000 have died.
In a clear sign of continuing prayers to God for the end of the pandemic, the sanctuary around the altar again was dominated by symbols of Romans’ faith in divine intervention – the icon “Salus Populi Romani” (health of the Roman people) and the “Miraculous Crucifix,” both of which were carried through the city centuries ago in times of plague.
As is customary, Pope Francis did not give a homily during the Mass but offered his reflections before the “urbi et orbi” blessing.
The Easter proclamation “Jesus Christ is risen. He is truly risen” goes forth from “the night of a world already faced with epochal challenges and now oppressed by a pandemic severely testing our whole human family,” the pope said. “In this night, the church’s voice rings out: ‘Christ, my hope, is risen’.”
The proclamation of hope, new life and victory over death, he said, should be “a different ‘contagion,’ a message transmitted from heart to heart, for every human heart awaits this good news,” he said.
“This is no magic formula that makes problems vanish,” Pope Francis said.
“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 bypass 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 Jesus, he said, came forth from the grave still bearing the marks of his crucifixion, he said. “Let us turn our gaze to him that he may heal the wounds of an afflicted humanity.”
Pope Francis prayed first of all for those directly affected by the coronavirus, especially the sick, those who have died and those mourning loved ones after not being able to say goodbye.
“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,” he said. “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.”