ROME – Pope Francis noted Monday that it was women who first bore witness to Jesus’s resurrection, applauding them for the many services they are performing during the coronavirus lockdown and praying for those at risk of domestic violence because they can’t leave their homes.
“We have heard that women gave the disciples the announcement of the Resurrection of Jesus. Today I would like to remind you of how much many women do, even in this time of medical emergency, to take care of others,” the pope said April 13.
He pointed to the many women who are doctors, nurses, police officers or who work in prisons, as well as employees at stores that sell basic necessities. He gave a shout-out to the “many mothers and sisters who find themselves closed at home with the whole family,” caring for children, elderly and the disabled.
At times these women “are at risk of being subjected to violence due to a coexistence for which they carry too great a burden,” he said, urging people to pray “that the Lord will give them strength and that our communities can support them together with their families.”
Pope Francis spoke during an April 13 Regina Coeli address the day after Easter. During the Catholic Church’s liturgical season of Easter, the Regina Coeli is prayed instead of the traditional Angelus prayer.
In Italy, the Monday after Easter is a national holiday known as Pasquetta, or the “little Easter.” Even the country’s grocery stores, which have been operating more or less continually since a national lockdown was imposed in early March, were closed.
With emotions and stress running high during the COVID-19 outbreak and no possibility to get out of the house due to quarantine restrictions, women and children already at risk for domestic violence have become even more vulnerable, prompting some countries to invent creative ways of helping at-risk women get assistance.
In both France and Spain officials have urged victims of domestic violence to use codewords at pharmacies and drug stores to signal they need help. In France, they have been told to say “mask 19” to pharmacists to raise the alarm.
According to CNN, the Telefono Rosa domestic violence helpline in Italy in the first two weeks of March had reported 55 percent fewer calls as women trapped at home with violent partners found it difficult to make a plea for help, either whispering or waiting until they went for brief trips to the supermarket or the shower to call for help.
In his address, Francis noted that it was women who first witnessed Jesus’s resurrection and spread word, prompting others to run to the tomb.
When in the Acts of the Apostles Peter declares that “This Jesus, God has raised him up and we are all witnesses,” from that moment “the announcement that Christ is risen spreads everywhere and reaches every corner of the world, becoming a message of hope for all,” the pope said.
Death does not have the last word, he said, adding that if Christ is risen, then “it is possibly to look with confidence at every event of our existence, even the most difficult and those filled with anguish and uncertainty.”
“Here is the Easter message that we are called to proclaim, with words and above all with the witness of life,” he said, adding that the certainty of Easter “strengthens the faith of every baptized person and above all encourages those who are facing great suffering and difficulty.”
Pope Francis closed asking that “the Lord give us the courage of women, to always go forward.”
He also prayed for the many countries heavily impacted by the coronavirus, including Italy, the United States of America, Spain and France.
“The list is long. I pray for all of them,” he said, and, speaking directly to these nations, said, “don’t forget that the pope is praying for you and is close to you.”