Pope prays for peace in Syria at Easter mass

Pope prays for peace in Syria at Easter mass

Pope Francis is celebrating his first Easter Sunday Mass as pontiff in St Peter’s Square, which is packed by joyous pilgrims, tourists and citizens of Rome.

Francis strode onto the flower-bedecked esplanade in front of St Peter’s Basilica. Tens of thousands of faithful had already filled the square hours before the Mass began in mid-morning.

Francis bowed his head in reflection as the Gospel was sung in Latin, recounting what Christians believe is the central mystery of their faith – the resurrection of Jesus after his death by crucifixion.

A white canopy sheltered the altar on the steps. After heavy rain battered Rome during the night, more was forecast. But Sunday saw sunny skies alternate with clouds.

After Mass ends, Francis will give his blessing and speech from the basilica’s balcony.

Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday peace plea, saying conflicts have lasted too long in Syria, and between Israelis and Palestinians.

He also urged reconciliation on the Korean peninsula, where North Korea says it has entered “a state of war” with South Korea.

Before a crowd of 250,000 in St. Peter’s Square he also denounced warfare and terrorism in Africa, and decried a greedy affluent world looking for “easy gain”.

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