Pope Francis prays for Sri Lanka victims in Easter Sunday address

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Pope Francis prays for Sri Lanka victims in Easter Sunday address

"I want to express my affectionate closeness with the Christian community, attacked while it was at prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence", the pope told the assembled crowd.

Francis skipped his homily during Easter Mass but delivered his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" (To the city and the world) speech highlighting conflicts in the Mideast, Africa and the Americas and demanding that political leaders put aside their differences and work for peace.

A series of eight devastating bomb blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka today, killing 207 people, including dozens of foreigners.

He entrusted to the Lord those who have died and been wounded, or are suffering, because of the attack.

"Men, women and children are bought and sold like slaves by the new traders in human lives", she wrote "How many people are growing rich by devouring the flesh and blood of the poor?"

But staunchly conservative and more liberal factions among church hierarchy have been bitterly at odds during his six-year-old papacy.

Also in the Holy Land are expected to be thousands of Christians from all over the world to the Easter celebrations.

The pope's first thoughts went to the people of Syria, "victims of an ongoing conflict to which we risk becoming ever more resigned and even indifferent".

He also mentioned the conflict in Yemen, and the hardships faced in South America.

Instead, he said, it is time to renew the commitment in favor of a political solution that responds to the just aspirations of freedom, peace and justice, addresses the humanitarian crisis and promotes the safe return of displaced persons. He mentioned Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon.

Pope Francis has encouraged people to resist cynicism or pursuing the "glitter of wealth", and to avoid seeking life's meaning in "things that pass away".

He called for politicians in Venezuela "to end social injustices, abuses and acts of violence, and take the concrete steps needed to heal divisions and offer the population the help they need".

He added that it was sometimes easier for Christians to remain "glum and closed up within ourselves" and to remain alone in the darkness of our heart because "we feel in control".

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