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Pope Leads Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square

Posted at: 03/31/2013 9:01 AM

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has celebrated his first Easter Mass today as 250,000 people packed St. Peter's Square.

After heavy rain battered Rome during the night, sunny skies alternated with clouds as the ceremony began.

The pontiff then issued a call for peace in the traditional papal message. Francis says conflicts have lasted too long in Syria, and between Israelis and Palestinians. He urged reconciliation on the Korean peninsula and denounced warfare and terrorism in Africa.

He also decried what he said is a greedy affluent world looking for "easy gain."

Christians in the Holy Land celebrate Easter

Catholics and Protestants in the Holy Land are celebrating Easter with prayers and services.

Worshippers prayed Sunday in the ancient church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, built on the site where tradition holds Jesus was crucified, briefly entombed and then resurrected.

Christians believe Jesus was resurrected on Easter. Roman Catholics and Protestants, who follow the new, Gregorian calendar, celebrate Easter on Sunday. Orthodox Christians, who follow the old, Julian calendar, will mark it in May.

Protestants held Easter ceremonies outside Jerusalem's walled Old City at the Garden Tomb, which some identify as the site of Jesus' burial. Another service was held at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Jesus' traditional birthplace.

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