On Easter Sunday, Cardinal George Pell shared an Easter Sunday message, on his first celebration of Christ’s resurrection after spending 405 days in prison before being acquitted by the High Court of Australia.

“How can I not think with sadness of the many who have died, particularly many priests. But what joy we must find in our faith in the Risen Lord that, in Him, one day, please God, we will see them all again. And for those of us who go on living, let us draw new strength and comfort from the Risen Lord. How close He is to all those who suffer, to those sick and in pain, to those falsely accused, and particularly to those who are alone. Lean on Him. Draw close to Him. For the Lord, there is no such thing as social distancing. He is looking for you. I am close to you–we are close together–through our faith and the magnificent reality we proclaim this day: The Lord is Risen! Alleluia!”

Calling Italy his “adopted country,” he said he thought of his friends there often while in prison, “particularly as all of you closed yourselves indoors as a result of this terrible pestilence.”

“Now, as we proclaim the Lord risen–in an ironic way as I enjoy freedom again–I want to witness to you ‘Have faith, despite it all, this trial too will end.'”

The cardinal concluded his Easter Sunday message with a toast to distant friends:

“From the depth of my heart I greet you with a warm ‘buona pasqua’ hoping and praying that around our Easter dinner tables we can all raise a glass in a brindisi – a cin cin – to distant friends. Christ is Risen, He has risen indeed, Alleluia! Buona pasqua!”

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