Pope's Easter message: Thousands brave rain as pontiff calls for peace in Iraq and Syria 'above all'

The traditional ceremony was attended by thousands of worshippers who braved torrential conditions

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The Independent Online

Pope Francis has called for peace "above all" in Syria and Iraq during his traditional Easter Sunday message this morning.

Speaking to thousands of worshippers in a rain-drenched St Peter's Square, the pontificate also called for cessations of hostilities in the Holy Land, Ukraine, Libya, Yemen, Nigeria, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo and once again referred to the persecution of Christians in many countries.

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Worshippers gather in the rain to see the address

"We ask Jesus, the victor over death, to lighten the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted for his name, and of all those who suffer injustice as a result of ongoing conflicts and violence.

"We ask for peace, above all for Syria and Iraq, that the roar of arms may cease and that peaceful relations may be restored among the various groups which make up these beloved countries.

"May the international community not stand by before the immense humanitarian tragedy unfolding in these countries and the drama of numerous refugees."

Two ago, during a good Friday service in Rome, the Pope condemned what he termed to be "complicit silence" regarding the killing of Christians.

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He also said that his thoughts and prayers were with the young people killed in last Thursday's massacre at Garissa University College in Kenya.

Referring to the outline agreement on Iran's nuclear programme, he expressed hope that it might be "a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world."

He concluded the address by saying: "We ask for peace and freedom for the many men and women subject to old and new forms of enslavement on the part of criminal individuals and groups.

"Peace and liberty for the victims of drug dealers, who are often allied  with the powers who ought to defend peace and harmony in the human family. And we ask for peace for this world subjected to arms dealers."

Communities around the world also came together to celebrate Easter Sunday, which celebrates the day on which Jesus Christ is believed to have been raised from the dead:

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Iraqi Christians attended a service at Virgin Mary Chaldean Church in Baghdad

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A young girl lights a candle in the Kenya city of Garissa, recently hit by an anti-Christian terror attack by group al-Shabbab.

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Women hold bunches of willow branches as they attend a service in Baku, Azerbaijan

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Schoolchildren dress as angels to take part in an easter procession in Filipino capital Manila

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The Queen and other members of the royal family attended a service at St. George's Chapel

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