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Pope denounces terrorism in Easter Mass amid tight Vatican security

Days after the Brussels attacks, Pope Francis spoke against terrorism in his Easter message at the Vatican

Eric J. Lyman for USA Today reports: Amid the tightest security ever for an outdoor Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis on Easter Sunday lashed out at the “blind and brutal” terrorism afflicting Europe, Africa, the Middle East and beyond.

Security measures were extremely strengthened during Pope’s speech in Vatican: many faithful had to wait for hours, and some were watching the Mass from a distance of almost three-quarters a mile away from St. Peter’s Cathedral. Security personnel checked bags and scanned crowds to provide higher safety level.

In his speech, Pope Francis expressed his sorrow towards difficulties that Syrian refugees encounter while trying to settle in Europe after leaving war-torn regions. “This day [Easter] invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees, including many children, fleeing war, hunger, poverty and social injustice,” the pontiff said.

The Vatican and Rome were subjected to threats from various terrorist groups over the past years, and the Pope has tried several times to overcome hate and violence by spreading his faith. For instance, on Good Friday he washed the feet of Christian, Muslim and Hindu migrants.

He condemned Europe’s rejection of migrants and called for greater compassion for the poor and marginalized. He also claimed that the people should forever remember the victims of terrorism.

“One of the pope’s main messages boils down to the belief that we are all brothers,” Franca Giansoldati, a Vatican expert with Rome’s Il Messaggero newspaper, said in an interview. “Francis’ political messages are always tied to the pastoral role he takes. He speaks as a pastor, not as a pope or a head of state.”

Despite the fact that the Pope did not get scared to tour the square in the ‘popemobile’ and even stopped several times to embrace a few of the faithful and to accept gifts, the minds of the people were occupied with safety issues.

“We’re on a ski trip in northern Italy and six months ago we made our plans to come to Rome for Easter, and when the attacks happened in Brussels, it made us think for a moment about canceling,” said Rita O’Dowd, 55, a dentist from Ireland.

“But we lived for a while near Northern Ireland during the troubles there, and what you learn is that you cannot live worrying about what might happen,” O’Dowd said.

Johanna Rager, 46, who works at a clinical research company in the United Kingdom, agreed.

“I love this pope and the way he lives the lessons he teaches rather than just taking about them,” said Rager, who traveled to Rome with four other family members. “I think he would say you can’t stop living life because of fear.”

“I understand why there is so much security, but I think the pope will be OK,” said Donna Stowe, 66, an administrator at a Christian broadcasting company in South Bend, Ind. “He’s doing the Lord’s work, and I think the Lord will protect him.”

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

EXPERT OPINION

Joshua Tartakovsky

The picture of the Pope washing the feet of migrants exposed, perhaps, on the heart of Western Christianity and its limitations. The message of the Pope, is in fact similar to that of liberal Europeans and human rights advocates: rather than a truthful analysis of the situation and realizing that love without setting limits and compassion without tough action when needed -  can lead to disasters and rob people of agency and responsibility, we see a kind of one-sided compassion  while neglecting one’s brain and common sense. We see only the outpouring of the heart in pity but no critical analysis. This approach may be emotionally gratifying but is unsustainable and unhelpful to anyone.
People are not to be pitied, they are to be empowered to take action, and at times they need tough love. “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him” (Proverbs).

When the economy is in shambles, taking in a countless number of migrants as cheap labor is not helpful for one’s own population.  Opening the gates to millions of migrants due to what feels good is not true compassion, not when rape, conflict and unemployment ensue, it is not thinking about tomorrow. A famous Jewish teaching says that one must treat the poor of one’s own city before he treats the poor from a different local.  Another teaches “Those who are merciful to the cruel will end up being cruel to the merciful.”  True compassion involves understanding the broad picture, and setting limits, not prostrating oneself entirely to the wishes of the other. There must be a hierarchy and common sense, each person can only operate at his level. But the liberal approach is to give those deemed victims everything and to accept every action they take, which humans will of course abuse. Jesus said "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

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