VATICAN CITY (AP) - On Christianityâ€™s most joyful day, Pope Francis lamented the horrors generated by war and hatred, delivering an Easter Sunday message that also decried the â€ślatest vileâ€ť attack on civilians in Syria.
Both in his impromptu homily during Mass in St. Peterâ€™s Square and later in his formal â€śUrbi et Orbiâ€ť Easter message delivered from the balcony of St. Peterâ€™s Basilica, Francis reflected on a litany of suffering in the world, including wars, oppressive regimes, human trafficking, corruption, famine and domestic violence.
He encouraged people to hold fast in their â€śfearful heartsâ€ť to faith, acknowledging that many people wonder where God is amid so much evil and suffering in the world.
Some 60,000 people, including multi-national throngs of pilgrims and tourists, endured tight anti-terrorism security checks - and, later, a brief downpour - to hear Francis and receive his blessing.
In his balcony address, Francis prayed that God would sustain those working to comfort and help the civilian population in Syria, â€śprey to a war that continues to sow horror and death.â€ť
He cited the explosion Saturday that ripped through a bus depot in the Aleppo area where evacuees were awaiting transfer, killing at least 100 people.
â€śYesterday saw the latest vile attack on fleeing refugees,â€ť the pope said, also praying for peace in the Holy Land, Iraq and Yemen.
Separately, in a letter he sent to the bishop of Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis, whose name he chose for his papacy, the pope decried the â€śscandalous reality of a world still marked by the divide between the endless number of indigentâ€ť and the â€śtiny portion of those who possess the majority of riches and presume to decide the fates of humanity.â€ť
Francis has repeatedly championed the dignity of migrants fleeing war, persecution or poverty. On Sunday he recalled â€śall those forced to leave their homelands as a result of armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, famine and oppressive regimes.â€ť