By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Apr 1, 2013

Catholics around the world paid close attention to Easter services at the Vatican and at the new pope.  Pope Francis delivered his first traditional papal blessing in front of huge crowds in Saint Peter’s Square and called for peace in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

The new pontiff delivered the mass without his Cardinals and said he preferred to be called “Bishop of Rome” over “His Holiness.”

“We ask the Risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace,” the pope said.

At St. Anne’s Church in Union City, California, Catholics said they were inspired by the pope’s message.

Jane Relopez, who conducts Bible study sessions among children and adults, said Pope Francis encourages her to do better in her ministry.

“I was touched by his humility and his work for the poor and the destitute.  He does not only say his teachings, he puts them into action,” she said.

Parishioners here said Pope Francis’ efforts to reach out and touch the faithful will draw more people to the Catholic Church.

“The man has gravitation around him,” Jackie Pitt said.

Maria Garcia ministers to low-income immigrant families through St. Vincent de Paul.  She and her family were undocumented immigrants and said the pope’s message should encourage people to treat everyone with respect.
“With things changing, even undocumented immigrants are being given back their dignity,” she said.

“The Pope is showing us the Face of Christ.  He has concern for the poor, those in despair, in darkness and in isolation and tells them that Christ has really risen through him and through us,” said

Father Geoffrey Baraan, parish priest of St. Anne’s Church.

You may contact Henni Espinosa at henni_espinosa@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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