Pope on Easter calls for end of Syria violence


Pope Benedict XVI delivers his 'Urbi et Orbi' message and blessing from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the end of the Easter Mass on April 8, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican.


Photo by L'Osservatore Romano Vatican Pool

In his annual Easter Mass message from the Vatican in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria.

"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 in his "Urbi et Orbi" message in St. Peter's Square, CNN reported.

"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," he said.

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As many as 100,000 crowded into St. Peter's Basilica to celebrate Mass on during the nearly two hour ceremony.

In addition to mentioning his concern about  Syria, the pope also spoke of need for peace elsewhere in the Middle East, such as Iraq, and in Africa, which has seen a recent coup in Mail and attacks in Nigeria.

The Associated Press reports due to his concern about the Middle East, the Holy See said the pope would make a three-day pilgrimage to Lebanon in September to celebrating Mass in Beirut.

The AP also mentioned concerns over the health of the 84-year-old pope who looking tired after a long evening vigil service in the church for the holiday.