Urbi et Orbi
Today Pope Francis gave the traditional Urbi et Orbi address, “the the city and the world.” The full speech can be found, for instance, at Whispers in the Loggia. I found it beautiful in its simplicity, in its clarion call to all Christians to embrace the hope of the resurrection:
So this is the invitation which I address to everyone: Let us accept the grace of Christ’s Resurrection! Let us be renewed by God’s mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.
Pope Francis also delivered the traditional appeal for peace throughout the world, but at the end of it he turned away from armed conflict to address some broader issues: capitalist greed, resource depletion and slavery:
Peace in the whole world, still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century; human trafficking is the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century! Peace to the whole world, torn apart by violence linked to drug trafficking and by the iniquitous exploitation of natural resources! Peace to this our Earth! Made the risen Jesus bring comfort to the victims of natural disasters and make us responsible guardians of creation.
Here he is continuing to raise issues that had been raised by his predecessors in other venues: denouncing unrestrained capitalism and environmental destruction. (Sadly, both of these were issues on which Pope Benedict spoke strongly but was generally ignored, particularly by the secular media.) Human Trafficking has also been an issue addressed repeatedly by the Vatican in the past few years.
So in one sense there is nothing new here. We can pray, however, that coupled with the Pope’s focus on the poor and the marginalized, these issues will gain new traction both within and beyond the Church. The world needs to begin anew on all of these grave problems.