"The Strength to Face the Phenomenon of Terrorism"
April 11, 2004 | VATICAN CITY, APRIL 11, 2004
1. "'Resurrexit,' alleluia -- He is risen, alleluia!" This year too the joyous proclamation of Easter, which echoed powerfully at last night's vigil, strengthens our hope. "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen" (Luke 24:5-6). Thus the angel encourages the women who have hastened to the tomb. Thus the Easter liturgy repeats to us, the men and women of the third millennium: Christ is risen, Christ is alive among us! His name now is "the Living One," death has no more power over him (cf. Romans 6:9).
2. "Resurrexit!" Today you, O Redeemer of mankind, rise victoriously from the tomb to offer to us, troubled by many threatening shadows, your wish for joy and peace. Those who are tempted by anxiety and desperation turn to you, O Christ, our life and our guide, to hear the proclamation of the hope that does not disappoint. On this day of your victory over death, may humanity find in you, O Lord, the courage to oppose in solidarity the many evils that afflict it. In particular, may it find the strength to face the inhuman, and unfortunately growing, phenomenon of terrorism, which rejects life and brings anguish and uncertainty to the daily lives of so many hardworking and peaceful people. May your wisdom enlighten men and women of good will in the required commitment against this scourge.
3. May the work of national and international institutions hasten the overcoming of the present difficulties and favor progress toward a more effective and peaceful world order. May world leaders be confirmed and sustained in their efforts to resolve satisfactorily the continuing conflicts that cause bloodshed in certain regions of Africa, Iraq and the Holy Land. You, firstborn of many brothers, grant that all who consider themselves children of Abraham may rediscover the brotherhood that they share and that prompts in them designs of cooperation and peace.
4. Take heed all of you who have at heart mankind's future! Take heed men and women of good will! May the temptation to seek revenge give way to the courage to forgive; may the culture of life and love render vain the logic of death; may trust once more give breath to the lives of peoples. If our future is one, it is the task and duty of all to build it with patient and painstaking farsightedness.
5. "Lord, to whom shall we go?" You who have conquered death, you alone "have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68). To you we raise with confidence our prayer which becomes an invocation of comfort for the families of the many victims of violence. Help us to work ceaselessly for the coming of that more just and united world that you have inaugurated with your resurrection. Accompanying us in this task is "she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (Luke 1:45). Blessed are you, O Mary, silent witness of Easter! You, O Mother of the Crucified One now risen, who at the hour of pain and death kept the flame of hope burning, teach us also to be, among the incongruities of passing time, convinced and joyful witnesses of the eternal message of life and love brought to the world by the Risen Redeemer.
[Translation of Italian original issued by the Holy See]
Blessed are you, Father, who, in your infinite love, gave us your only-begotten Son. By the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate in the spotless womb of the Virgin Mary and was born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. He became our companion on life's path and gave new meaning to our history, the journey we make together in toil and suffering, in faithfulness and love, towards the new heaven and the new earth where You, once death has been vanquished, will be all in all.
Pope John Paul II (Latin: Ioannes Paulus II; Italian: Giovanni Paolo II;) born Karol Józef Wojtyla[a] (Polish: ['kar?l 'juz?f v?j't?wa]; 18 May 1920 - 2 April 2005) was a Roman Catholic priest, bishop, and Cardinal who eventually rose to become Pope. He was elected by the second Papal conclave of 1978, which was called after Pope John Paul I, who was elected in August after the death of Pope Paul VI, died after thirty-three days. Then-Cardinal Wojtyla was elected on the third day of the conclave and adopted his predecessor's name out of tribute to the deceased former pontiff. In the years since his death, John Paul II has since been made a saint by the Church. He is referred to as Pope Saint John Paul II or Saint John Paul the Great, for example as a name for institutions. He was the second longest-serving pope in modern history after Pope Pius IX, who served for nearly 32 years from 1846 to 1878. Born in Poland, John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope since the Dutch Pope Adrian VI, who served from 1522 to 1523.
John Paul II is recognised as helping to end Communist rule in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe. John Paul II significantly improved the Catholic Church's relations with Judaism, Islam, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion. He upheld the Church's teachings on such matters as artificial contraception and the ordination of women, but also supported the Church's Second Vatican Council and its reforms.
As part of his special emphasis on the universal call to holiness, he beatified 1,340 people and canonised 483 saints, more than the combined tally of his predecessors during the preceding five centuries. By the time of his death, he had named most of the College of Cardinals, consecrated or co-consecrated a large number of the world's bishops, and ordained many priests. A key goal of his papacy was to transform and reposition the Catholic Church. His wish was "to place his Church at the heart of a new religious alliance that would bring together Jews, Muslims and Christians in a great religious armada". However, his main aim, as he used to underline, was to spread the message of Divine Mercy, revealed by Jesus Christ to saint Faustina Kowalska, and thus to prepare the world for His final coming.
The Divine Mercy is a Christian devotion to the endless merciful love of God towards all people. The devotion is due to the apparitions of Jesus received by saint Faustina Kowalska (1905–1938), who is known as the Secretary of Mercy (Diary 965, 1160, 1605, 1693). Faustina Kowalska reported a number of apparitions, visions and conversations with Jesus which she wrote in her diary, later published as the book Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul. The three main themes of the devotion are to ask for and obtain the mercy of God, to trust in Christ's abundant mercy, and finally to show mercy to others and act as a conduit for God's mercy towards them.
There are five main forms of this devotion, to which Jesus has attached promises: the miraculous Divine Mercy image with the inscription Jesus, I trust in you; the Divine Mercy Sunday which gives the forgiveness of all sins and punishments; the powerful Chaplet of Divine Mercy appealing to the passion of Christ; the hour of mercy, that is 3 p.m., when Jesus died; and the spreading of the mercy to the whole humanity, as it is the preparation for the end of world.
Pope John Paul II, both in his teaching and personal life, strove to live and teach the message of Divine Mercy. As the great Mercy Pope, he wrote an encyclical on Divine Mercy: "The Message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me… which I took with me to the See of Peter and which it in a sense forms the image of this Pontificate."
In his writings and homilies, he has described Divine Mercy as the answer to the world’s problems and the message of the third millennium. He beatified and canonized Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska, the nun associated with the message, and he did it in Rome and not in Poland to underscore that Divine Mercy is for the whole world.