THE POPE, AT LEAST, SPEAKS OUT ON EASTER

How many wounds, how much suffering there is in the world,” the pontiff told tens of thousands of pilgrims, tourists and Romans gathered Sunday at St. Peter’s Square where he had just finished celebrating mass.

Benedict, delivering his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” Easter address from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, lamented how politics and religion are exploited to add to already abundant natural disasters afflicting mankind.

“Natural calamities and human tragedies that cause innumerable victims and enormous material destruction are not lacking.” the Pope said. “(But) I am thinking 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.”

“Afghanistan is marked by growing unrest and instability,” Benedict said. “In the Middle East, besides some signs of hope in the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, unfortunately, nothing positive comes from Iraq, torn apart by continual slaughter as the civil population flees.”

He also had harsh words about the “underestimated humanitarian situation” in Darfur as well as other African places of suffering. These included violence and looting in Congo, fighting in Somalia, and the “grievous crisis” in Zimbabwe marked by crackdowns on dissidents, a disastrous economy and corruption.Benedict said political “paralysis” threatened Lebanon’s future.

“Suffering, evil, injustice, death, especially when it strikes the innocent such as children who are victims of war and terrorism, of sickness and hunger, does not all of this put our faith to the test?”

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