Pope calls for peace in Syria and across the Middle East | News | DW | 01.04.2018
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Pope calls for peace in Syria and across the Middle East

Pope Francis has called in his Easter address for an end to "carnage" in Syria and "reconciliation" in the Middle East. He also named several other nations, including Yemen and DR Congo, as needing the "fruits of peace."

Pope Francis on Sunday used his traditional Easter message to call for peace across the world, giving special mention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Syrian civil war.

Francis told the tens of thousands of people listening in a flower-bedecked St. Peter's Square in the Vatican that the Middle East conflict did "not spare the defenseless," calling for "reconciliation for the Holy Land."

His remarks come two days after more than a dozen Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers at the Israeli-Gaza border.

The pontiff also begged for peace "for the entire world, beginning with the beloved and long-suffering land of Syria, whose people are worn down by an apparently endless war."

Francis greets a child in the crowd in St. Peter's Square (Reuters/M. Rossi)

The pope was celebrating his sixth Easter as head of the world's Catholics

'So many acts of injustice'

In the course of the address, he mentioned Yemen, the wider Middle East, Ukraine, Venezuela, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Korean Peninsula as regions and countries in crisis.

The listeners were urged to work to end "so many acts of injustice," two days after the pope said in another address that he was "ashamed" of the state of the world.

Francis holds a candle during the Easter vigil (Reuters/S. Rellandini)

Easter is one of the most important periods in the year for Christian faithful

High security

The Urbi et Orbi (To the city and to the world) address on Sunday brought to an end a full schedule of Easter ceremonies for the 81-year-old Francis.

On Saturday, he celebrated a nighttime Mass in St. Peter's, during which he baptized eight adults, including a formerly undocumented Nigerian migrant beggar who became a national hero when he disarmed an Italian thief wielding a cleaver.

The pope has in the past often spoken out in defense of refugees coming to Europe to escape conflict or poverty in their home countries.

He also presided over the Via Crucis procession at the Colosseum in Rome on Good Friday.

Security has been tight in Rome amid reports that Islamists might carry out attacks in the city. Some 10,000 police have been deployed to boost security in the Italian capital.

tj/rc (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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