Pope calls for end to "horror and death" in Syria

As he led the Easter Mass in St Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis spoke of the war in Syria. Worshippers were subjected to heightened security measures.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Pope Francis during the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing for Rome and the world from the central loggia of St Peters' basilica following the Easter Sunday mass on April 16, 2017 in the Vatican.

Pope Francis urged an end to "horror and death" in Syria on Sunday as he began his traditional Easter mass in Rome followed by his Urbi et Orbi message to the city and the world. Easter is observed by Christians across the world to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

The Argentine pontiff expressed the hope that Christ's own sacrifice might help bring "comfort and relief to the civil population in Syria, prey to a war that continues to sow horror and death."

He urged world leaders to have the courage to prevent the spread of conflicts.

Thousands of worshippers gathered in Rome since the early hours to gain access to the Easter mass, the highlight of the Christian calendar.

During the mass, the Pope condemned a bomb blast on a crowded Syrian bus convoy that killed at least 112 people outside Aleppo as an "ignoble" attack.

The mass followed Francis's Good Friday prayer in which he deplored the suffering of migrants, victims of racism and the persecution of Christians around the world.

"In their faces, we can see reflected all those who, walking the streets of our cities, feel the pain of dire poverty, the sorrow born of exploitation and human trafficking," he said.

Thousands gathered at St Peter's square in the Vatican for Easter Sunday mass on April 16, 2017. (AFP)

High security measures

The entire area around St Peter's Basilica was blocked, with few access points for those admitted after their bags had been inspected.

Access to St Peter's Square itself was only possible after security checks similar to those at airports. Hundreds of police and security forces stood guard.

TRTWorld and agencies