- The Washington Times - Monday, April 1, 2002

From combined dispatches
As worshippers sang Easter hymns early yesterday in New York's historic St. Paul's Chapel, workers in boots dusty from the devastation of the World Trade Center trudged in for hot drinks and then back out to the job a block away.
"The message of Easter is a message of hope, and hope is something to which we cling amid the devastation of ground zero," said the Rev. Lyndon Harris, who delivered the Easter sermon at the 235-year-old Episcopal chapel that survived the September 11 terrorist attack with only a few broken windows.
Across the United States and the world, current events crept into traditional Easter Sunday services, with pleas for peace in the Middle East, prayers for a recovering Afghanistan and encouragement for troops in the campaign against terrorism.
As warplanes roared over the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan, the Rev. Bob McMeekin, a Greek Orthodox priest and U.S. Army chaplain, held services for about 120 U.S., British and Polish soldiers at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan. He said the holiday should give hope after a tumultuous year.
"When we think about the events of September 11 … we think about the utter loss," Mr. McMeekin said. "Jesus is symbolized here as the one who absorbed our loss."
The work removing debris and human remains from the disaster site continued yesterday as parishioners in Easter finery filled the pews at St. Paul's. Police officers, firefighters and workers trickled through the doors and made their way to a table where volunteers poured hot drinks.
Louis Dini, who operates heavy equipment for 12-hour shifts at the trade center site, paused at the chapel before beginning work at 7 a.m.
"It was good to be here," said Mr. Dini, who said he joined other workers who stopped there every day to "relax and just forget about everything."
A frail Pope John Paul II, in his Easter Sunday message in Vatican City, offered prayers for the victims of years of fighting in Afghanistan and those affected by last week's earthquake, while condemning Middle East violence.
"In how many corners of the world do we hear the cry of those who implore help, because they are suffering and dying?" the 81-year-old pontiff said. "From Afghanistan, terribly afflicted in recent months and now stricken by a disastrous earthquake, to so many other countries around the world where social imbalances and rival ambitions still torment countless numbers of brothers and sisters."
In their Easter sermons, several American Catholic bishops mentioned the sexual scandals rocking the church in the United States.
Cardinal Bernard Law offered an Easter message of hope yesterday to worshippers who had filed past protesters with signs that read "House of Rape" and "Cardinal Law Resign."
"Even though we carry in our hearts those who bear the wounds of betrayal through abuse inflicted by others, especially by clergy … we fix our gaze with unshakable hope of the risen Lord. He is our light," Cardinal Law said during his homily at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
While Cardinal Law prepared to celebrate the Eucharist, armed officers outside monitored about a dozen protesters and confiscated nails from a man with a cross taped to his back. He had a sign that read "Stop crucifying us."
Protester Rick Webb, 49, of Wellesley, shouted, "Boycott, boycott, boycott," while a choir sang the processional hymn.
Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, in his Easter sermon, cautioned against generalizing about all priests.
"Priests are not a criminal class," Cardinal George said, asking for prayers for priests and for himself to help him handle properly any sexual abuse charges, should they arise.
In Kandahar, Afghanistan, army chaplain Maj. Mike Dugal from Clarksville, Tenn., welcomed about 120 American soldiers who sang hymns and prayed at an Easter Sunday sunrise service.
Standing before a wooden cross, he urged the faithful to put their trust in God, saying, "Many of us brought fears when we came to Afghanistan because we didn't know what was going to happen."
In Bagram, U.S. Army Chaplain Frederick E. Hoadley of Wilder, Idaho, blessed the British troops, asking God "to grant to the royal family, to the UK, to the coalition partners and the nation of Afghanistan peace."


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