The sovereign of the state of Vatican said prayed that the light of the Risen Christ should shine in the darkness of conflicts around the world, especially those in Cameroon, Syria, Yemen, Israel and Palestine, Libya, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Ukraine, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.
The Easter Day violence in Sri Lanka overshadowed the mass and the Pontiff offered his "affectionate closeness" to the community there.
To the suffering people in the world, like those in Cameroon’s restive North West and South West Regions, Pope Francis addressed words of comfort and hope. “Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world. Everything he touches becomes young, new, full of life,” the Pope said, adding that: “Easter, is the “beginning of a new world, set free from the slavery of sin and death: the world open at last to the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of love, peace and fraternity.”
Jesus, he added, does not abandon those who face hardship and sorrow, and he named the many parts of the world that are witnessing various forms of conflict, including Cameroon.
After citing conflicts in the Middle East, Eastern Ukraine, and the Americas, Pope Francis then turned to the African continent, first calling for the end to bloodshed in Libya, “where defenseless people are once more dying in recent weeks and many families have been forced to abandon their homes”. He urged those involved to choose dialogue over force.
The Pope said parts of the continent are “rife with social tensions, conflicts and at times violent forms of extremism that leave in their wake insecurity, destruction and death.” He specifically mentioned Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Burkina Faso.
Sudan, he said, is experiencing “a moment of political uncertainty”, voicing his hope that all parties will be heard.
Pope Francis prayed that God sustain the efforts towards peace in South Sudan, following a recent spiritual retreat in the Vatican. “May a new page open in the history of that country, in which all political, social and religious components actively commit themselves to the pursuit of the common good and the reconciliation of the nation.”
It should be noted that the Vatican had offered to mediate an end to the crisis in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon, Pope Francis’ emissary to President Paul Biya had revealed in Yaoundé on Tuesday, February 26, 2019..
Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States at the Holy See indicated the Vatican’s readiness to help Cameroon resolve the crisis in Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions.
After an audience with Cameroon’s Minister of External Relations, Lejeune Mbella Mbella, in Yaoundé on Monday, February 25, 2019, the Papal envoy commended “the efforts made so far by the government,” stating that he is willing to mediate the crisis on behalf of the Holy See.
Paul Richard Gallagher went on to request, on behalf of the Apostolic Nuncio, Julio Murat, an audience with President Biya.
The Catholic Church and religious denominations in general, are suffering the consequences of the crisis in Anglophone Cameroon with apostolic and educational activities almost at naught. Priests and the laity have been targets as the belligerents continue to show the might of their firepower.
Many are those who now look up to the Holy See for not only prayers, but for speedy action that can lead to peace.