Pope Francis prays to Jesus for peace to end the 'horror and death' of Syria


 Pope Francis has used his traditional Easter homily to speak out against the horror of yesterday's bombing of a bus convoy in Syria that left more than 100 people dead.

Addrdessing thousands of pilgrims in St Peter's Square in the Vatican, the Pope spoke in his Urbi et Orbi of the 'horror and death' of Syria.

He also spoke of the death and destruction being wreaked elsewhere in the world, such as Egypt.

'By his resurrection, Jesus Christ has set us free from the slavery of sin and death, and has opened before us the way to eternal life,' he said.

The 'Risen Shepherd' tirelessly seeks us, he said, and shoulders those many 'brothers and sisters crushed by evil in all its varied forms'.

Jesus takes upon himself all those victimised by old and new forms of slavery, inhuman labour, illegal trafficking, exploitation and discrimination, and grave forms of addiction.

'He takes upon himself children and adolescents deprived of their carefree innocence and exploited, and those deeply hurt by acts of violence that take place within the walls of their own home.'

He also walks beside all those forced to leave their homelands as a result of armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, famine and oppressive regimes. 

Pope Francis prayed: 'May he grant the leaders of nations the courage they need to prevent the spread of conflicts and to put a halt to the arms trade.

'Especially in these days, may he sustain the efforts of all those actively engaged in bringing comfort and relief to the civil population in Syria, prey to a war that continues to sow horror and death. May he grant peace to the entire Middle East, beginning with the Holy Land, as well as in Iraq and Yemen.

'May the Good Shepherd remain close to the people of South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, who endure continuing hostilities, aggravated by the grave famine affecting certain parts of Africa.

May the Risen Jesus sustain the efforts of all those who, especially in Latin America, are committed to ensuring the common good of societies marked at times by political and social tensions that in some cases have resulted in violence. May it be possible for bridges of dialogue to be built, by continuing to fight the scourge of corruption and to seek viable and peaceful solutions to disputes, for progress and the strengthening of democratic institutions in complete respect for the rule of law.'

He also prayed for Ukraine and Europe. On Europe, he said: 'May he grant hope to those experiencing moments of crisis and difficulty, especially due to high unemployment, particularly among young people.'