Pope Francis greets the crowd during his Easter message and blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) delivered from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican April 1. (CNS, via Vatican Media)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Easter is a feast that calls Christians to gather together, make a commitment to dialogue and to work for the common good, Pope Francis said.

In Italy and in other countries, Easter Monday is a day for relaxed family gatherings and picnics because “after having celebrated Easter, one feels a need to gather again with loved ones and friends to celebrate,” the pope said April 2, before reciting the “Regina Coeli” prayer at noon with visitors in St. Peter’s Square.

In a short talk before the prayer, Pope Francis said Easter promotes fraternity because “with his death and resurrection, Christ has defeated the sin that separates human beings from God, from themselves and from their brothers and sisters. We know that sin always separates, always creates enmity.”

Pope Francis said it is important today to rediscover the value of fraternity and community that the first Christians lived, “rediscovering how to give space to Jesus who never separates, but always unites.”

“Without fraternal sharing,” he said, “there can be no ecclesial or civil community; there would exist only a collection of individuals moved or grouped by their own interests.”

Christ’s resurrection from the dead unleashed a new commitment to dialogue, “which for Christians has become a responsibility,” the pope said. “In fact, Jesus said, ‘This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ That is why we cannot close ourselves off in our own group, but we are called to be involved in the common good, take care of our brothers and sisters, especially those who are weakest and most marginalized.”

After reciting the “Regina Coeli,” Pope Francis urged Christians to show support and care for people who are fragile, and he made special mention of day’s celebration of World Autism Awareness Day.

For the occasion, the Vatican published a message from Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

“With its works the church witnesses to its care for persons with symptoms on the autism spectrum,” he said. “In our communities, there is a general attitude of welcome, even if there is still difficulty in exercising real inclusion.”

For such inclusion to occur, he said, every parish and community must make sure all who enter are treated with the dignity that is theirs as children of God and they must welcome with compassion any family that is struggling and exhausted.