Vatican City: Pope Francis, who celebrated his first Easter as pontiff on Sunday, used the occasion to pray for peace for the troubled regions of the world.
Dressed in white, the 76-year old newly elected Pope addressed more than 2, 50, 000 Catholics gathered at St Peter’s for Easter Mass ceremony.
Francis bowed his head in reflection as the Gospel was sung in Latin, recounting what Christians believe is the central mystery of their faith — the resurrection of Jesus after this death by crucifixion.
Starting his "Urbi et Orbi" (To the city and the world) speech with a “Happy Easter”, the the Argentine Jesuit pontiff prayed to Christ to turn “war into peace”.
"We ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace," the Pope said.
In his Easter message, Pope made a strong plea for establishment of peace in the conflict-stricken parts like Middle East, Asia and Africa.
Syria found a special mention in Pope’s Easter address when he said that "Peace in Iraq, that every act of violence may end, and above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort."
"Peace for the Middle East, and particularly between Israelis and Palestinians, who struggle to find the road of agreement, that they may willingly and courageously resume negotiations to end a conflict that has lasted all too long”, the Pope continued.
He also mentioned Mali and Nigeria when urging for peace in African continent and also took note of Korean peninsula while talking about peace in Asia.
Pope used the Easter message to strengthen the message of peace and concluded by saying, "Peace in the whole world, still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this 21st Century."
The Pope yesterday led a trimmed back Easter Vigil service, which was shorter than usual.
Pope Francis has made it a point to keep his Masses short and to the point.
In his homily Saturday, Francis kept his message simple and tied to the liturgical readings, recalling how Jesus` disciples found his tomb empty a day after his death and were surprised and confused.
"Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness, and that is where death is," he said. "Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life!"
Typically, after the busy Easter week ceremonies, the pope would go to the papal retreat at Castel Gandolfo for a few days of vacation. Francis can`t do that since the previous pope, Benedict XVI, is currently living there in retirement.
The Vatican has said Francis would stay put in the Vatican.
Since Francis was elected pope on March 13, becoming the first Latin American and first Jesuit pontiff ever, he has put concern for the poor and others on the margins of society at the heart of his attention to set an example for his flock.
With Agency Inputs