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April 5, 1991     The Message
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April 5, 1991

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sSAGE i ,|l i CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF EVANSVILLE VOLUME 21 NUMBER 29 APRIL5, 1991 ill t it ill Papal Easter message stresses need to overcome world's social ills VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christ's resurrection must inspire Christians to work harder to eliminate war, promote democracy, and grant justice to "op- pressed peoples," said Pope John Paul II in his annual Easter message. Among the oppressed peoples men- tioned by the pope were the Palesti- nians, the Lebanese and the Kurds. The pope read his message March 31 from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica after celebrating morning Mass in St. Peter's Square. The annual message is called "Urbi et Orbi," Latin for "to the city and to the world." The message culminated the pope's Holy Week activities, a liturgically busy time when he washed the feet of 12 priests, heard confessions, led a revised version of the Way of the Cross, and baptized and confirmed 26 people rang- ing in age from 8 to 58. The Easter message alluded to the Persian Gulf crisis "when a choice was made of aggression and the violation of international law; when it was pre- sumed to solve the tensions between the peoples by war, the sower of death." If you believe in the resurrected Christ "you will vigorously prevent the exploitation of the poor," the pope said. "You will say no to the lucrative arms trade," he added, The pope supported ""the long- ignored aspiration of oppressed peoples, such as the Palestinians, the Lebanese, the Kurds, who claim the right to exist with dignity, justice and freedom." Also supported were the in- dependence struggles of the Soviet Baltic republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. "From the Baltic to the Mediterra- nean, and in other areas of the world, there rose in vain the voice of the peoples, yearning for respect for their own identity and their own history," the pope said. People in Africa, Asia and Latin America also "aspire to societies which are more free and democratic," he said. "Only upon an international order in which law and freedom are indivisible for all can the society we hope for be founded," he said. The pope complained that "not everything was done to face the inex- orable threat of famine which has af- flicted whole peoples in Africa," especially Sudan and Ethiopia. Little was dane "to stop, in that same continent, particularly in Angola, Mozambique, Liberia and Somalia, wars and guerrilla actions which try peoples already in a precarious state," he added. The pope also pleaded for greater See PAPAL page 13 Easter message is needed now in Middle East VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In the wake ff the Gulf war and with other regional :onflicts still simmering, Easter's nessage of hope'and peace is needed nore than ever in the Middle East, said everal high-ranking churchmen. Six patriarchs and archbishops who )articipated in a recent Vatican summit bn the Middle East commented on the var's aftermath in the Easter Sunday ,dition of L'Osservatore Romano, the fatican newspaper. Chaldean Patriarch Raphael I lidawid of Iraq said the six-week allied ,var against his country had caused unimaginable" destruction. Iraq today Leeds its own "resurrection," but this viii not happen without international Lelp, he said. "Today I imagine my country, Iraq, s somewhat like Lazarus, in a state of e "''' 1' * " composition, the patriarch said. To lustrate the extent of the damage, he aid the allied campaign had destroyed aore than 100 mosques, about 10 Chal- ean churches and many buildings wned by Christian churches,!n Iraq. In this war, he said, man has eformed, destroyed the image of ',od." To add to the misery, he said, aq is now undergoing a "very rious" internal struggle. Patriarch Raphael, who was on a eace mission during .the war, had not et returned to Baghdad on Easter. Algerian Archbishop Henri Teissier rrote that "after 42 days of war (in the ',ulf), the West risks falling asleep in le euphoria of success." But the archbishop questioned rhether the Gulf war could be termed a ictory in a moral sense. He said the onduct of the war raised grave ques- ons, especially concerning the "enor- lous disproportion" between the lilitary strength of one side and the slaughter" suffered by the other. Another question of conscience, he said, was "the stubbornness in unleashing a ground offensive" just when a more peaceful solution seemed possible. On the other hand, he said, the last few months also saw the emergence of peacemaking efforts, and showed that the way of hope remains open for many people. In these weeks, too, he said, the church's commitment to interreligious dialogue was underlined. Jerusalem Latin-rite Patriarch Michel Sabbah said the Gulf crisis underlined that the church clearly rejects the con- cept of a "holy war" carried out in the name of God. "But war in the name of humanity, which brings the material and moral destruction of a part of humanity, can only be a contradiction," he said. In the Holy Land this year, he said, Easter is marked by the continuing con- flict between Palestinians and Israelis, which "produces violence and fear, and keeps people from mutual recognition and love." He said the cause of the en- mity is an injustice that has provoked yet mare injustice -- creating a "closed circle" of violence and mutual fear. The moment has come, the patriarch said, for all those who believe in God to "help the politicians build a new world, beginning with this Holy Land, the spiritual patrimony of Christians and of all believers." The plight of Palestinians and the legitimacy of their struggle for a homeland was. also emphasized by Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk of Cin- cinnati, president of the National Con- ference of Catholic Bishops. Palesti- nians, he said, have "too often been forgotten" by the world powers. Archbishop Pilarczyk said the tragedy of the Gulf war will not be over- ,,come a long as regional problems of in- justice and instability remain. In addi- tion to the fate of Palestinians, these in- clude the security of Israel and the rdconstruction of Lebanon, he said. The Gulf crisis highlighted the "destructive consequences of policies that encouraged the militarization of the Middle East," he said. Throughout the war, he said, U.S. bishops raised serious moral questions about its causes and its conduct. Now, the bishops are urging that peace in the region be sought with the same level of energy and commitment demonstrated in battle, he said. Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir repeated his call for the end to "occupation" of his country by foreign forces. Syria has some 40,000 troops in Lebanon and Israel controls an area in the south of the country. Patriarch Steir said the cun'ent cJt- flict in Lebanon is not between the country's Christians and Muslims, but between forces which have armed, paid and used local populations for their own ends. He called on the interna- tional community to take a "firm deci- sion" in favor of Lebanese sovereignty. Italian Cardinal Carlo Martini of Milan, president of the Council of Euro- pean Bishops' Conferences, said Europe needs to ask itself whether it has done enough to prevent war in the Middle East. The Gulf war llustrated that the in- ternational econ6ic order needs pro- . i, O " found rewson, s that t will cease be- ing a cause of imbalance,, tensions and injustice in parts of the world, he said.