Pope prays for end to persecution against Christians

Pope Francis arrive to delivers a "Urbi et Orbi" message from the balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 5, 2015.REUTERS/Max Rossi

Pope Francis prayed for an end to the persecution against Christians throughout the world during his Easter Sunday address at the Vatican.

The Pope delivered his yearly "Urbi et Orbi" address to tens of thousands of Catholics in St. Peter's Square after celebrating Easter Sunday Mass at the Basilica.

"We ask Jesus, the victor over death, to lighten the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted for his name, and of all those who suffer injustice as a result of ongoing conflicts and violence - and there are many," Reuters quoted Pope Francis as saying in his address. 

The comments came days after four militiamen stormed the Garissa University in Kenya and massacred Christian students. The militiamen were members of the al-Shabaab militant group based in neighbouring Somalia. The group said the attack was in retaliation for Kenyan support towards the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.

On Sunday, various churches hired armed guards to protect themselves while they conducted Easter Sunday services.

Pope Francis' address called for prayers for the victims of the Garissa University attack, all victims that have been kidnapped by various terrorist organisations around the world, and people displaced by conflict in the Middle East and Africa.

"May constant prayer rise up from all people of goodwill for those who lost their lives – I think in particular of the young people who were killed last Thursday at Garissa University College in Kenya - for all who have been kidnapped, and for those forced to abandon their homes and their dear ones," the Pope urged Christians all over the world.

Pope Francis prayed for peace in nations currently embroiled in armed conflict, including Libya,  Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria.

"We ask for peace and freedom for the many men and women subject to old and new forms of enslavement on the part of criminal individuals and groups," he said.