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Pope calls for end of violence in Syria in Easter message

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 9th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Pope Benedict XVI in his Easter message called for an end to violence in Syria. He also called for a renewed peace effort in the Middle East. The pope delivered his annual Easter Mass message from the Vatican as Christians worldwide marked the holiday.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "May the risen Christ grant hope to the Middle East and enable all the ethnic, cultural and religious groups in that region to work together to advance the common good and respect for human rights," the pope declared in his "Urbi et Orbi" ("To the City and to the World") message in St. Peter's Square.

"Particularly in Syria, may there be an end to bloodshed and an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation, as called for by the international community," he said.

"May the many refugees from that country who are in need of humanitarian assistance find the acceptance and solidarity capable of relieving their dreadful sufferings."

In addition, the Iraqi people, the pope said, should be encouraged to "spare no effort in pursuing the path of stability and development. In the Holy Land, may Israelis and Palestinians courageously take up anew the peace process."

The pope also asked that "the risen Jesus comfort the suffering populations of the Horn of Africa and favor their reconciliation," including Sudan and South Sudan, "and grant their inhabitants the power of forgiveness. In Mali, now experiencing delicate political developments, may the glorious Christ grant peace and stability. To Nigeria, which in recent times has experienced savage terrorist attacks, may the joy of Easter grant the strength needed to take up anew the building of a society which is peaceful and respectful of the religious freedom of all its citizens."

Christians have been targeted for violence in Nigeria, most notably on Christmas Day, when a string of bombs struck churches in several cities. A bombing this weekend in the northern city of Kaduna killed 25 people and wounded another 13.

Thousands of Easter services, from the annual sunrise service at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C., to worshipers attending Mass in the Philippines went without incident.

In Georgetown, Texas, professional athlete Tim Tebow, who has become known as much for his religious devotion as for his exploits on the football field.

Tebow was the subject of much attention last year with his play and public displays of faith, and more recently with his trade from the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets.

"Whatever happens in life -- good or bad, whether you're the hero or the goat, whether you like it or not -- you know that someone has a plan for your life, and it's a special plan," Tebow said. "When you trust that and you have hope in that, then you have peace in all decisions and everything you do. And it brings a lot of joy to your life."

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