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Pope Benedict Calls for Peace in Syria in Easter Address

Thousands gather in St. Peter's Square as Pope Benedict celebrates Easter Mass, Vatican City, Sunday, 8 April, 2012.

Pope Benedict called Sunday for an end to bloodshed in Syria and a commitment to dialogue to end violence there.

In his annual Easter message, the pope told a crowd of around 100,000 people crammed into Saint Peter's square that particularly in Syria, there should be an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation. The pontiff also denounced terrorist attacks in Nigeria and prayed for peace in coup-struck Mali.

After Easter Sunday mass, Pope Benedict pronounced his traditional "urbi et orbi" blessing in 65 languages.

Just hours earlier, the pontiff had led a three-hour nighttime Easter vigil inside Saint Peter's Basilica.

Easter, the holiday that marks what Christians believe is the triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion, is the most important event on the Christian calendar.

Eastern Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter on April 15.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.