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In Easter message Pope urges end to Syria bloodshed

Pope Benedict XVI arrives at the altar to celebrate the Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square at the the Vatican, Sunday, April 8, 2012.
AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito

(AP) VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI in his Easter Sunday message has urged the Syrian regime to heed international calls to end bloodshed and commit to dialogue.

After celebrating Mass in St. Peter's Square, Benedict voiced hope that Easter's joy would comfort Christian communities suffering because of their faith.

He denounced terrorist attacks in Nigeria that have hit Christians and Muslims alike and prayed for peace in coup-struck Mali.

The pope struggled with hoarseness throughout the Mass before a crowd of more than 100,000 faithful.

Only hours earlier he had led a three-hour nighttime Easter vigil inside St. Peter's Basilica.

Faithful gather in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican during the Easter Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI, Sunday, April 8, 2012.
AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito