Pope celebrates Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square before tens of thousands

Pope Francis celebrated Easter Sunday Mass in a call for peace in a world marked by war and conflict, "beginning with the beloved and long-suffering land of Syria," and extending to the entire Middle East, the Korean peninsula and parts of Africa.

Pilgrims from around the world and Italy gathered in the Vatican City square decorated with spring flowers to hear Francis deliver the traditional "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and to the world) Easter message from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

Francis opened Easter festivities with a tweet to his global flock that said "Our faith is born on Easter morning: Jesus is alive! The experience is at the heart of the Christian message."

The pontiff said the message of the resurrection offers hope in a world "marked by so many acts of injustice and violence."

"It bears fruits of hope and dignity where there are deprivation and exclusion, hunger and unemployment; where there are migrants and refugees, so often rejected by today's culture of waste, and victims of the drug trade, human trafficking and contemporary forms of slavery," the pope said.

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He also called for a "swift end" to carnage in Syria, demanding that aid be delivered to the needy there and calling for "fitting conditions for the returned and the displaced."

Vatican Swiss Guards stand at attention in front of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican prior to the arrival of Pope Francis to celebrate an Easter mass, Sunday, April 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Vatican Swiss Guards stand at attention in front of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican prior to the arrival of Pope Francis to celebrate an Easter mass, Sunday, April 1, 2018.  (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

The pope also urged reconciliation in Israel and hoped that mutual respect would "prevail over divisions" in Yemen and the entire Middle East.

As President Trump is expected to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un by next month, Francis said he hoped that talks underway could bring peace to the Korean peninsula, urging "those who are directly responsible act with wisdom and discernment to promote the good of the Korean people."

For Ukraine, the pope urged more steps to bring harmony to that divided nation. He also called for peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, urging the world not to forget victims of conflict, especially children.

Pope Francis delivers the Urbi et Orbi (to the city and to the world) blessing at the end of the Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, April 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope Francis delivers the Urbi et Orbi (to the city and to the world) blessing at the end of the Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, April 1, 2018.  (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

"May there be no lack of solidarity with all those forced to leave their native lands and lacking the bare essentials for living," said the pope who has often championed the cause of migrants and refugees.

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The church's first pontiff from Latin America cited in particular the problems in Venezuela, voicing hope the country would "find a just, peaceful and humane way to surmount quickly the political and humanitarian crises that grip it."

Earlier, tens of thousands of faithful underwent heavy security checks to enter St. Peter's Square to participate in Easter Sunday Mass celebrated by the pope.

Elsewhere, hundreds of Christians marked Easter by flocking to Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the site where they believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.