EUROPE/ITALY - Ecumenical Message for Easter: "Do not be afraid"

Thursday, 9 April 2020 easter   ecumenicalism   coronavirus  

Rome (Agenzia Fides) - "In view of the Easter of Resurrection, which our Churches will celebrate on different dates (April 12 in the western tradition and April 19 in the eastern one), on the basis of the fraternity that derives from confessing the same Lord, we felt the need to expressing ourselves together by saying a common word in the face of the pandemic that hit our country and the whole world".
Thus began the Easter message that Pastor Luca Maria Negro, President of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy (FCEI), His Exc. Mgr. Ambrogio Spreafico, Bishop of Frosinone and President of the Episcopal Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI), and Metropolitan Gennadios, Orthodox Archbishop of Italy and Malta (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople) wanted to address to the Christians in Italy.
"Once a year - explains Pastor Negro - as representatives of the main Christian confessions we turn to our communities to present together the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which takes place from 18 to 25 January. In the face of the coronavirus emergency and in view of this completely anomalous Easter, which we will live in isolation, we felt the urgency to pronounce a common word again, starting from the message of courage and hope of the resurrection of Jesus".
The ecumenical message starts from the Gospel of Matthew (28.4-8) in which the resurrection is announced by an earthquake and by the angel of the Lord who rolls the large stone of the sepulcher, causing in all present - guards and "pious women"- a great fright, to explain that there is a fear that immobilizes, those of the guards - and one that "sets in motion", that of women that makes them "the first announcers of the resurrection".
"As Churches - say the writers of the message - we feel called to be, like the pious women, announcers of the resurrection, of the fact that death does not have the last word" and they add that "this pandemic also strengthens in us the vocation to be together, in this world divided and at the same time united in suffering, witnesses of humanity and hospitality, attentive to the needs of everyone and particularly of the last, of the poor, of the marginalized. With a feeling of special gratitude to God for the many who work tirelessly alongside those who suffer".
Taking up the invitation of Pope Francis, of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, of the Ecumenical Council of Churches and of the Conference of European Churches, they invite everyone to join in prayer with the words that Jesus taught us: "Our Father who art in heaven ... deliver us from Evil". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 9/4/2020)