Pope urges end to Syria ‘horror’ in Easter address:  

Easter Vigil Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis recounted the Biblical account of Jesus Christ’s mother Mary and Mary Magdalene, filled with grief, as they went to visit his tomb following the crucifixion.

Their grief, he said during the solemn ceremony, could be seen in the faces of many women today.

“In their faces we can see reflected all those who, walking the streets of our cities, feel the pain of dire poverty, the sorrow born of exploitation and human trafficking,” he said.

“We can also see the faces of those who are greeted with contempt because they are immigrants, deprived of country, house and family. We see faces whose eyes bespeak loneliness and abandonment, because their hands are creased with wrinkles.”

Francis has used the period leading up to Easter to stress his vision of service to the neediest. On Good Friday, he lamented that many people had become inured to daily scenes of bombed cities and drowning migrants.

During Saturday’s service, he baptized 11 people, most of them adult converts to Catholicism, from Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, the United States, Albania, Malta, Malaysia and China.

On Easter Sunday, the most important day in the Christian liturgical calendar, he will read his twice-annual “Urbi et Orbi” (“To the City and the World”) message in St. Peter’s Square.

Security has been tight for all of the pope’s Holy Week activities following recent truck attacks against pedestrians in London and Stockholm.

Pope Francis urged an end to “horror and death” in Syria today 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.
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.”
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