In his message for Easter Sunday, Pope Francis described the Aleppo bomb blast which left 112 people dead as "ignoble." He spoke in favor of those helping the civilian population and the victims of the Syrian war.
Tens of thousands of tourists, pilgrims and Roman residents were in St Peter's Square on Sunday to witness Pope Francis' 'Urbi et Orbi' (To the city and the World) message.
"May [God] in a particular way sustain the efforts of those who are actively working to bring healing and comfort to the civilian population of Syria, the beloved and martyred Syria, who are victims of a war that does not cease to sow horror and death," Pope Francis said on Sunday.
He prayed for peace for the entire Middle East "beginning with the Holy Land, as well as in Iraq and Yemen."
Amid tight security, the cobblestoned square was bedecked with colorful spring flowers. The pope delivered his Easter message from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.
Pope Francis spoke for migrants making their way across Europe and criticized "paralysing and barren bureaucracies that stand in the way of change." 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."
He prayed for God's blessing on "those experiencing moments of crisis and difficulty, especially due to high unemployment, particularly among young people."
Without naming Venezuela, Pope Francis alluded to political and social tension in Latin America. "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.
He also asked that "the Good Shepherd come to the aid of Ukraine, still beset by conflict and bloodshed."
Easter holds special importance for Christians because it recalls the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion. This year it falls on the same day for Catholics and for Orthodox Christians, for whom it usually falls a week later.
Other rituals associated with the run-up to Easter, include Holy Thursday's foot-washing ceremony, which Francis this year performed in a prison for Mafia turncoats south-east of Rome.
On Friday, the pope led the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession at the Colosseum. On the eve of Easter, Francis celebrated the traditional Vigil Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.
The previous pope, Benedict XVI celebrated his 90th birthday on Sunday quietly in the gardens of the restored convent where he lives within the Vatican grounds. Benedict stepped down in 2013.
bik/jm (AP, dpa, AFP, Reuters)