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Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pope Francis prayed for peace in Ukraine and Syria as he celebrated Easter Mass on Sunday at the steps of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

The pope, head of the Roman Catholic church, prayed for all those involved in the conflict in Ukraine to "make every effort to prevent violence." In Syria, he prayed for "peace that is long awaited and long overdue."

He also called for an end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Pope Francis spoke to thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square for the annual celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, which is one of Christianity's most prominent holidays.

In Ukraine, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk attended church with his family and called on Ukrainians to unite and "resurrect."

Christians also packed churches in Iraq and Syria to pray for peace.



British royalty - the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge - attended Easter service in Australia at Saint Andrew's Anglican cathedral in Sydney.

Before they left, William and Kate signed the First Fleet Bible, a King James edition the first fleet of European settlers and convicts brought to Australia in 1788.

The Bible had been previously signed by Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

At an Orthodox Christian Easter service in troubled Ukraine, which is locked in conflict with Russia, Kyiv Patriarch Filaret called Russia an "enemy" whose attack on Ukraine is doomed to fail.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attended a Russian Orthodox Easter service at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow where Patriarch Kirill led prayers for Russians in Ukraine and called for an "end to the designs of those who want to destroy Holy Russia."

Worshippers gathered Saturday night in Bethlehem for the traditional Easter vigil at the Church of Saint Catherine, adjacent to the Church of the Nativity.

The church is one of the most visited shrines of Christianity and stands above the grotto where many Christians believe Jesus was born.
 
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin, foreground left, attends the Easter service in Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, April 20, 2014. 
  • An Orthodox priest blesses traditional Easter cakes and painted eggs prepared for Easter celebrations in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra church (Cave Monastery), Kyiv, Ukraine, April 20, 2014. 
  • Pope Francis gives the thumb up as he leads the Easter mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, April 20, 2014. 
  • Pope Francis waves as he leads the Easter mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, April 20, 2014. 
  • A Ukrainian Orthodox priest sprinkles holy water on worshippers outside a regional government building during Easter in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, April 20, 2014. 
  • Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge prepare to sign the First Fleet Bible and Prayer Book following Easter Sunday Service at St. Andrews Cathedral in Sydney, April 20, 2014. 
  • Britain's Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, meets members of the cathedral choir following an Easter Sunday service at St. Andrews Cathedral in Sydney, April 20, 2014. 
  • Temperate weather on Easter Sunday brought large crowds to view the Orchid Symphony exhibit, U.S. Botanic Garden, Washington, D.C., April 20, 2014. (Elizabeth Pfotzer/VOA)
  • Philippine Coast Guard personnel stay beside people swimming just outside the U.S. Embassy as they celebrate Easter Sunday, Manila, Philippines, April 20, 2014. 
  • Spencer Slate, garbed as a scuba-diving Easter bunny, places hard-boiled eggs on the sea floor 2014, in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo, Florida, April 18, 2014. 

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