Pope Francis is decrying what he calls the vile and abominable Easter Sunday bombing in a Pakistani park targeting Christians, and is insisting religious minorities be protected.

Francis told faithful in St. Peter's Square Monday most of the 70 dead in Lahore were Christian families celebrating Easter, including many women and children.

He is calling on authorities in Pakistan to "make every effort to restore security and serenity" to Pakistanis, particularly religious minorities in the largely Muslim Asian nation.

Francis also said that violence and murderous hate only lead to sorrow and destruction and that respect and brotherhood are the only path to reach peace.

The pope urged prayers to God to "stop the hands of violent people sowing terror and death."