Vatican City, Mar 27, 2005 (CNA) - Tens of thousands from around the world gathered for the solemn Easter mass in St. Peter's Square this morning to celebrate the Resurrected Christ and to receive the Pope's benediction.
Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano presided at the 10:30 a.m. mass, standing in for the ailing Pontiff, but the frail Pope John Paul II did not disappoint. He appeared at his study window at the end of mass and gave the faithful his blessing, though he was unable to speak.
During the Mass, the Pope's window was kept open and his coat of arms was hung outside, reminding the faithful of his spiritual presence.
Unable to preside at any of this year's Holy Week celebrations for the first time in his 26-year pontificate due to poor health, the Pope issued repeated messages, assuring Catholics that he is spiritually with them.
The faithful also prayed that God give "life and new energy" to the Church and "to our bishop and Pope, John Paul II."
At the end of the mass, the Pope in his white cassock was seen at his window as Cardinal Sodano read the Pontiff's Urbi et Orbi message.
After the message, a priest announced that the Pope would give the crowd a special blessing. What followed was a moving scene.
Aides brought a microphone to the Pope's mouth. Raising his hands in a show of extraordinary will, the 84-year-old pontiff tried to speak but was only able to make a few sounds, unable to pronounce any words. The aides removed the microphone and the Pope proceeded silently to make the sign of the cross over the emotional crowd.
The mass was broadcast live. Many pilgrims in the square were shown crying and expressing their hope and admiration for their spiritual leader.
Read the full Urbi et Orbi message at:
Vatican City, Mar 27, 2005 (CNA) - In his Easter message read this morning by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, at the Vatican, Pope John Paul offered an emotional, intense prayer for conversion, peace, freedom and justice, brought by Christ’s resurrection.
His words follow:
1. Mane nobiscum, Domine! Stay with us, Lord! (cf. Lk 24:29)
With these words, the disciples on the road to Emmaus invited the mysterious Wayfarer to stay with them, as the sun was setting on that first day of the week when the incredible had occurred.
According to his promise, Christ had risen; but they did not yet know this. Nevertheless, the words spoken by the Wayfarer along the road made their hearts burn within them.
So they said to him: "Stay with us". Seated around the supper table,they recognized him in the "breaking of bread" - and suddenly he vanished.
There remained in front of them the broken bread,there echoed in their hearts the gentle sound of his words.
2. Dear brothers and sisters,the Word and the Bread of the Eucharist, the mystery and the gift of Easter, remain down the centuries as a constant memorial of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ!
On this Easter Day, together with all Christians throughout the world, we too repeat those words: Jesus, crucified and risen, stay with us! Stay with us, faithful friend and sure support for humanity on its journey through history!
Living Word of the Father, give hope and trust to all who are searching for the true meaning of their lives. Bread of eternal life, nourish those who hunger for truth, freedom, justice and peace.
3. Stay with us, Living Word of the Father, and teach us words and deeds of peace: peace for our world consecrated by your blood and drenched in the blood of so many innocent victims: peace for the countries of the Middle East and Africa, where so much blood continues to be shed; peace for all of humanity, still threatened by fratricidal wars.
Stay with us, Bread of eternal life, broken and distributed to those at table: give also to us the strength to show generous solidarity towards the multitudes who are even today suffering and dying from poverty and hunger, decimated by fatal epidemics or devastated by immense natural disasters.
By the power of your Resurrection, may they too become sharers in new life.
4. We, the men and women of the third millennium, we too need you, Risen Lord! Stay with us now, and until the end of time. Grant that the material progress of peoples may never obscure the spiritual values which are the soul of their civilization. Sustain us, we pray, on our journey.
In you do we believe, in you do we hope, for you alone have the words of eternal life (cf. Jn 6:68).
Mane nobiscum, Domine! Alleluia!
Read the full Urbi et Orbi message at:
Pinellas Park, Fla., Mar 27, 2005 (CNA) - In the most dramatic turn in the fight for Terri Schiavo's life, her parents asked supporters to return home to spend Easter Sunday with their families, after deciding not to file another motion with a federal appeals court, essentially ending their effort via the judiciary power.
As Bob and Mary Schindler's daughter went a ninth day without food or water, Franciscan Fr.Paul O'Donnell, said the family unsuccessfully urged Michael Schiavo to allow his wife the sacrament of communion during the holiest day of the Catholic year. She received last rites the day the feeding tube was pulled.
"This is in violation of her religious rights and freedoms and allows the governor to intervene," Fr. O'Donnell said Saturday, repeating the family's request that the governor take Schiavo into protective custody. "We beg you to have courage and take action," he added.