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Catholic Church

Pope Francis delivers Urbi et Orbi blessing for Easter

Pope Francis has celebrated his second Easter as leader of the Catholic church with thousands of followers in Saint Peter's Square. He called on the warring sides in Syria to negotiate.

Pope's Urbi et Orbi blessing

Under clear blue skies in Rome, Pope Francis gave his Urbi et Orbi (to the city and to the world) blessing. The holiest day in the Christian calendar attracted more than 100,000 people to the square to hear the Pope speak on Sunday at mid day.

Easter celebrations in Rome again sent out the message of social solidarity which has characterised Pope Francis' papacy since it began last year.

He made reference to killings and violence around the world, including in Nigeria, Ukraine and Jerusalem and urged warring sides in Syria to negotiate "boldly."

This year the Roman Catholic church's celebration of Easter coincided with that of the Orthodox church and some of the hymns at the Vatican Mass were in Russian.

Arrests in Jerusalem

There were tensions in Jerusalem during the Easter celebrations. Israeli police arrested 16 Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa compound in the Old City - a sensitive holy site revered by Christians, Jews and Muslims. Israeli police said the Palestinians had thrown rocks at them.

Israeli police had tightened restrictions on access to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, limiting entrance to women and to men over the age of 50.

Tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists have traveled to Jerusalem for the Christian Easter holiday and the week-long Jewish Passover.

jm/pfd (AFP, AP)

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