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Pope Prays For World Peace At Easter

Pope Francis has prayed for peace in the world during his first Easter Sunday message, delivered from the balcony of Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.

Addressing an audience of about 250,000 people from around the globe, the pontiff specifically prayed for reconciliation in places of conflict including the Korean peninsula, Mali, Nigeria and the Middle East.

"Yes, Christ is our peace and through him we implore peace for all the world. Peace for the Middle East, and particularly between Israelis and Palestinians, who struggle to find the road of agreement, that they may willingly and courageously resume negotiations to end a conflict that has lasted all too long. Peace in Iraq, that every act of violence may end, and above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees."

After the Easter Mass, the pope was driven around the square in an open vehicle. He kissed babies and handicapped children along the way and waved to the cheering crowds.

Christians around the world celebrated Easter on Sunday. It is the holiest day of the liturgical year that marks the resurrection of their savior Jesus.

U.S. President Barack Obama and his family attended an Easter service Sunday morning at an Episcopal church near the White House.

In his weekly address Saturday, he said Easter provides an opportunity "to rededicate ourselves to interests larger than our own."

Many Christians traveled to the Holy Land to visit places where Jesus preached and was crucified.

In Syria, Christians observed Easter in a somber mood, many of them attending mass in areas devastated by conflict.

Iraqi Christians attended churches amid tight security.

In the Philippines, President Benigno Aquino said that just as Jesus rose from the dead, hope has been resurrected among Filipinos against the forces of graft and corruption.

In Australia, on Melville Island in the Tiwi Islands group, worshippers observed Easter with a unique blend of indigenous culture and Catholic influences.

Not all Easter celebrations are strictly religious. Hundreds of New Yorkers participated in the annual Easter Parade that features the city's residents clothed in their best finery topped with elaborate hats.

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