Pope Francis urged an end to “horror and death” in Syria on Sunday as he celebrated the traditional Easter Day mass in Rome.
The Easter mass, the highlight of the Christian calendar, began under a cloudy sky where worshippers had gathered since the early hours to gain access amid tight security.
After a short bout of heavy rain, the pontiff gave his traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing, to the city and the world, in which he prayed for those suffering from war, famine and political unrest, highlighting Syria but also Ukraine and conflict zones in Africa.
He expressed hope that Jesus’ own sacrifice might “sustain the efforts of all those actively engaged in bringing comfort and relief to the civil population in Syria, prey to a war that continues to sow horror and death.”
And he prayed for peace for the entire Middle East “beginning with the Holy Land, as well as in Iraq and Yemen.”
He also spoke out against the hostilities and famine in Africa, notably in South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He further urged world leaders to hear the message of peace as they contend with “the complex and often dramatic situations of today’s world”, and to work “to prevent the spread of conflicts and to put a halt to the arms trade”.
Without mentioning Venezuela by name, Pope Francis also alluded to political and social tensions in Latin America, expressing the hope the “common good of societies” would prevail.
“May it be possible for bridges of dialogue to be built, by continuing to fight the scourge of corruption and to seek viable and peaceful solutions to disputes, for progress and the strengthening of democratic institutions in complete respect for the rule of law,” he said.