Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Easter on Sunday Mass and in his traditional Urbi et Orbi message, implored an end to conflict, including in Libya and the Ivory Coast, while calling upon nations to welcome migrants fleeing from violence and poverty.
The ceremony began with the pontiff’s Popemobile making its way between tens of thousands of people gathered in St Peter’s Square under an overcast sky which gradually gave way to sunlight.
After the mass which was held in the square, the Pope appeared on the loggia of St Peter’s Basilica to the cheers of those below.
“Easter morning brings us news that is ancient yet ever new: Christ is risen!” the Pope said.
He then cited the Gospel reading which tells of how Jesus’ mother Mary together with several other women, including Mary Magdalene, were the first to discover Jesus’ empty tomb.
The pontiff said that some “20 centuries” after the event which is at the core of Christian belief, Jesus’ resurrection is still cause for celebration.
“In heaven all is peace and gladness, but alas, it is not so on earth,” the Pope noted in his message.
“Here in this world of ours, the Easter alleluia still contrasts with the cries and laments that arise from so many painful situations: deprivation, hunger, disease, war, violence,” he added.
Mentioning several of the worlds’ trouble spots, he began with Israel and the Palestinian territories — the Holy Land of the Bible — and other parts of the region.
“May the splendour of Christ reach the peoples of the Middle East, so that the light of peace and of human dignity may overcome the darkness of division, hate and violence,” the pontiff said.
Turning to Libya, Benedict asked that “diplomacy and dialogue take the place of arms.” He the urged for a show of “solidarity,” for the plight of migrants, a burning issue in several European states including France, Germany and Italy that have been at odds over sharing the responsibility for taking in thousands of Tunisians who have fled the recent upheavals in their country.
“May help come from all sides to those fleeing conflict and to refugees from various African countries who have been obliged to leave all that is dear to them; may people of good will open their hearts to welcome them,” the Pope said.
He also called for “reconciliation and pardon,” in strife-torn Ivory Coast, and expressed hope that Japan “find consolation,” as it deals with the effects of the recent earthquake and tsunami disasters.
Pope Benedict imparted his traditional blessing and expressed his Easter good-wishes in 65 languages including Arabic, Japanese, Swahili and his native German.
“May the grace and joy of the Risen Christ be with you all,” the spiritual leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Roman Catholics said in the English version.
Sunday’s ceremony was broadcast to dozens of countries worldwide.
It brought an end to a busy Holy Week for the 84-year-old Benedict who presided over an Easter Vigil inside the Vatican Basilica late on Saturday and the traditional Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession around the Colosseum on the night of Good Friday.
On Holy Thursday, the pontiff washed the feet of 12 priests in a traditional gesture commemorating Jesus’ act of humility to his disciples at the Last Supper.