Pope pays tribute to women in Christianity
CASTEL GANDOLFO - Agence France-Presse
AP photoPope Benedict XVI paid tribute Monday to the role of women in Christianity as he gave a post-Easter prayer at his residence in Castel Gandolfo outside Rome.
"Women have experienced a special tie with the Lord," the pope said, speaking in a firm but hoarse voice to several hundred worshippers gathered in the courtyard of his summer residence about 25 kilometres (16 miles) southeast of Rome.
"In all the gospels, women play a large role in the account of the appearance of the resurrected Christ and also in the passion and the death of Jesus." The pope called women's role "fundamental for the concrete life of the Christian community" not only in the church's beginnings but in every era.
Benedict, who has been pope since 2005, turns 85 on April 16.
After reciting the Regina Caeli, the special prayer that replaces the traditional Angelus during the Easter season, he greeted worshippers in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, drawing a shower of applause from Spanish-speakers who shouted "Viva el papa!" Benedict recently returned from a six-day visit to Mexico and Cuba, his first-ever visit to Spanish-speaking Latin America.
In his Easter message Sunday, the pope appealed for peace and reconciliation around the world, particularly in Syria.
He also condemned discrimination and persecution of Christians, singling out Nigeria, where a car bombing near a church in the northern city of Kaduna killed 20 people on Easter.