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Pope implores Syria during Easter message
Wishes peace and comfort to Christian communities who suffer for their faith
- Vatican City
- April 9, 2012
Benedict, struggling with hoarseness and looking tired, celebrated Mass on Christianityâ€™s most joyous holy day on the flower-adorned steps of St Peterâ€™s Basilica, before a crowd of faithful that swelled to far over 100,000 by the end of the two-hour-long ceremony.
Only hours earlier the pontiff, who turns 85 on April 16, had led a nighttime vigil service in the church. There have been concerns over his health, and he has recently used a cane in public appearances. He no longer walks down the basilicaâ€™s long aisle, traveling instead aboard a wheeled platform pushed by aides.
At the end of Sundayâ€™s Mass, Benedict moved to the basilicaâ€™s central balcony to read his Easter message â€śto the entire world,â€ť as he put it, delivering a ringing appeal for peace in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, and in Africa.
â€śMay the risen Christ grant hope to the Middle East and enable all the ethnic, cultural and religious groups in that region to work together to advance the common good and respect for human rights,â€ť the pope said.
â€śParticularly in Syria, may there be an end to bloodshed and an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation, as called for by the international community,â€ť Benedict said, making Syria the first of several strife-torn countries he mentioned in his traditional â€śUrbi et Orbiâ€ť (Latin for â€śto the city and to the worldâ€ť) Easter address.
Underlining the popeâ€™s concern for the Middle East, the Holy See said Sunday that the pope would make a three-day pilgrimage to Lebanon in September.
Full story: Pope calls for end to Syria violence
Source: Associated Press