Pope Benedict XVI, carrying a tall, lit candle,
ushered in Christianity's most joyous celebration with an Easter vigil service
on Saturday night, but voiced fears that mankind is groping in darkness,
unable to distinguish good from evil.
Easter for Christians commemorates Christ's
triumph over death, with his resurrection following his crucifixion.
"Life is stronger than death. Good is
stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Truth is stronger than lies,"
Benedict, wearing white robes in a symbol of new life, told the faithful
in a packed St. Peter's Basilica.
Still, Benedict worried in his homily: "The
darkness that poses a real threat to mankind, after all, is the fact that
he can see and investigate tangible material things, but cannot see where
the world is going or whence it comes, where our own life is going, what
is good and what is evil."
"The darkness enshrouding God and obscuring
values is the real threat to our existence and to the world in general,"
the pope said.
Message: As part of his message, the Pope warned that the
world was losing how to differentiate between good and evil, losing sight
Strengths: With the Pope's message of warning, he also said that life is stronger than death, good stronger than evil, love stronger than hate and truth stronger than
"If God and moral values, the difference between good
and evil, remain in darkness, then all other 'lights,' that put such incredible
technical feats within our reach, are not only progress but also dangers
that put us and the world at risk," Benedict added.
The service began dramatically. Except
for the twinkle of camera flashes, the basilica was almost pitch-black as
the thousands of faithful in pews awaited Benedict's arrival through the
rear entrance. After aides lit the candle, Benedict climbed aboard a raised
platform that was wheeled up the long main aisle to the central altar. The
wheeled device is used to save wear and tear on the pontiff, who turns 85
on April 16.
Benedict, who has made protection of the environment a
theme of his papacy, made a reference to urban pollution in his homily. "Today
we can illuminate our cities so brightly that the stars in the sky are no
longer visible,' he said. 'Is this not an image of the problems caused by
our version of enlightenment?"
"With regard to material things, our knowledge and
our technical accomplishments are legion, but what reaches beyond, the things
of God and the question of good, we can no longer identify,' Benedict added,
saying that faith was the 'true enlightenment."
During the vigil ceremony, Benedict welcomed eight adult
converts to the church, pouring water over their bowed heads in baptism.
On Sunday morning, Benedict led Easter Mass in St. Peter's
Square, then delivered a speech from the central balcony of the basilica,
at the end of stamina-testing Holy Week appearances.