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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
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Pope Benedict XVI implored the Syrian regime Sunday to heed international demands to end the bloodshed and expressed hope that the joy of Easter will comfort Christian communities suffering because of their faith.

Benedict, struggling with hoarseness and looking tired, celebrated Mass on Christianity’s most joyous holy day on the flower-adorned steps of St Peter’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 basilica’s long aisle, traveling instead aboard a wheeled platform pushed by aides.

At the end of Sunday’s Mass, Benedict moved to the basilica’s central balcony to read his Easter message “to the entire world,” as he put it, delivering a ringing appeal for peace in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, and in Africa.

“May 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,” the pope said.

“Particularly 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,” Benedict said, making Syria the first of several strife-torn countries he mentioned in his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” (Latin for “to the city and to the world”) Easter address.

Underlining the pope’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
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