Vatican City, 8 April 2012 (VIS) - Given below are extracts from the message which His Holiness Benedict XVI read out during the course of the Easter Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord, celebrated this morning in St. Peter's Square in the presence of more than 100,000 faithful.

"Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world! ... May the jubilant voice of the Church reach all of you with the words which the ancient hymn puts on the lips of Mary Magdalene, the first to encounter the risen Jesus on Easter morning. ... “I have seen the Lord!”".

"Every Christian relives the experience of Mary Magdalene. It involves an encounter which changes our lives: the encounter with a unique Man Who lets us experience all God’s goodness and truth, Who frees us from evil not in a superficial and fleeting way, but sets us free radically, heals us completely and restores our dignity. ... All my yearnings for goodness find in Him a real possibility of fulfilment: with Him I can hope for a life that is good, full and eternal, for God Himself has drawn near to us, even sharing our humanity".

"In this world, hope can not avoid confronting the harshness of evil. It is not thwarted by the wall of death alone, but even more by the barbs of envy and pride, falsehood and violence. Jesus passed through this mortal mesh in order to open a path to the kingdom of life. For a moment Jesus seemed vanquished: darkness had invaded the land, the silence of God was complete, hope a seemingly empty word.

"And lo, on the dawn of the day after the Sabbath, the tomb is found empty. ... The signs of the resurrection testify to the victory of life over death, love over hatred, mercy over vengeance".

"If Jesus is risen, then - and only then - has something truly new happened, something that changes the state of humanity and the world. Then He, Jesus, is someone in Whom we can put absolute trust; we can put our trust not only in His message but in Jesus himself, for the Risen One does not belong to the past, but is present today, alive. Christ is hope and comfort in a particular way for those Christian communities suffering most for their faith on account of discrimination and persecution. And He is present as a force of hope through His Church, which is close to all human situations of suffering and injustice.

"May the risen Christ grant hope to the Middle East and enable all the ethnic, cultural and religious groups in that region to work together to advance the common good and respect for human rights. Particularly in Syria, may there be an end to bloodshed and an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation, as called for by the international community. May the many refugees from that country who are in need of humanitarian assistance find the acceptance and solidarity capable of relieving their dreadful sufferings. May the paschal victory encourage the Iraqi people to spare no effort in pursuing the path of stability and development. In the Holy Land, may Israelis and Palestinians courageously take up anew the peace process.

"May the Lord, the victor over evil and death, sustain the Christian communities of the African continent; may He grant them hope in facing their difficulties, and make them peacemakers and agents of development in the societies to which they belong.

"May the risen Jesus comfort the suffering populations of the Horn of Africa and favour their reconciliation; may He help the Great Lakes Region, Sudan and South Sudan, and grant their inhabitants the power of forgiveness. In Mali, now experiencing delicate political developments, may the glorious Christ grant peace and stability. To Nigeria, which in recent times has experienced savage terrorist attacks, may the joy of Easter grant the strength needed to take up anew the building of a society which is peaceful and respectful of the religious freedom of its citizens. Happy Easter to all!"

Following his Message, the Pope extended Easter greetings in sixty-five languages before imparting the "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing.

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