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Pope Francis Leads Easter Mass For Thousands

A crowd estimated at more than 150,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square for an Easter Mass led by Pope Francis on Sunday. The pope gave his traditional blessing on the most important day of the Christian calendar; he also called for help for people who are living in desperate conditions.

From Rome, NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports for our Newscast unit:

"Looking tired after an intense holy week, Francis stressed that Easter is 'the basis of our faith and hope.' If Christ were not raised, he said, Christianity would lose its very meaning. The whole mission of the church, added Francis, would lose its impulse.

"He appealed to the lord to help overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by immense wastefulness for which, he added, we are often responsible.

"He also appealed for African victims of the Ebola virus, for kidnapping victims, and for migrants seeking a better life and religious freedom.

"He called for an end to violence in Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic, Nigeria and South Sudan and urged negotiations and reconciliation in Venezuela and Ukraine, and between Israelis and Palestinians."

You can read the pope's complete 'Urbi et Orbi' message (Latin for 'to the city and to the world') at the Vatican website.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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