Faithful flock to Vatican as pope celebrates Easter Sunday


Christians across the world are celebrating Easter, commemorating the day follow.

Christian clergymen hold candles during the Easter Sunday procession at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditionally believed by many Christians to be the site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ, in Jerusale.

The pontiff broke with tradition and delivered an off-the-cuff homily for Easter Sunday, one of the very few improvised speeches in such a solemn setting from a pope who's used to leaving his prepared remarks aside to speak from the heart on more informal occasions.

Some 60,000 people, including multinational throngs of pilgrims and tourists, endured tight security checks - and, later, a brief downpour - to hear Francis and receive his blessing. He highlighted the latest bombing in Syria where at least 100 people were killed at a bus depot near the city of Aleppo amid the ongoing mass evacuations happening in the besieged area.

In the unscripted homily, Pope Francis said Easter brings a positive "sign in the midst of so many calamities".

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He also spoke of God walking "beside all those forced to leave their homelands as a result of armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, starvation and oppressive regimes". Francis also mentioned hostilities and starvation plaguing parts of Africa.

Francis spoke of Europe's problems, mentioning the continued conflict and bloodshed in Ukraine, and prayed for hope for those struggling with high unemployment, especially young people.

Pope Francis has called today on the divine power to support those striving to guarantee the common good in Latin America, sometimes marked by political and social tensions that, in some cases, lead to violence, he said. But Francis addressed a concern likely on the minds of many Catholics on this religious holiday as they witness what seems like daily images of war, terrorism and starvation in every corner of the globe: Why is tragedy so common if Jesus rose from the dead to forgive the sins of the world, the central belief behind Easter?

Easter "isn't a party with lots of flowers".