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Pope Benedict XVI Wishes Orthodox Christians Happy Easter

Pope Benedict XVI greets the faithful during first appearance of his papacy at window of his apartment overlooking St. Peter's Square
Pope Benedict XVI wished Orthodox Christians a Happy Easter in his first appearance from his study window. Thousands of pilgrims crowded Saint Peter's Square for the event.

There was a festive atmosphere in Saint Peter's Square. Clapping and cheering erupted when the new pope came to the window of the apostolic palace.

Tens-of-thousands of pilgrims turned out in Saint Peter's Square for Pope Benedict's appearance.

"I address you," he said, "for the first time from this window that my predecessor made familiar to so many people around the world."

"It is a great emotion to be here," said one pilgrim, "and I think you can tell by the presence of so many young people."

In his message, Pope Benedict greeted, with special affection, the Orthodox churches that are celebrating their Easter.

The pope said he hopes the path toward Christian unity will continue.

Recalling that May 1 marks Labor Day in many countries, the pope then expressed the hope that young people may not lack work.

He also addressed current world issues, as his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, used to do from the same window. Pope Benedict said that, in recent days, he often thinks of those people suffering from wars, poverty, and illness.

The pope singled out the African nation of Togo, where elections have led to bloody riots. He expressed closeness to the population devastated by painful internal struggles.

The pope then wished everyone a happy Sunday and offered his blessings.