Watch CBSN Live

Pope Delivers Easter Mass

After a few days of silence on the tragedy in the Balkans, Pope John Paul II spoke out on the crisis in Kosovo during his Easter Sunday mass.

Thousands of faithful filed St. Peter's Square in the Vatican to listen to the pontiff's message on the most holy day of the Christian calendar.

The pope expressed dismay over Yugoslavia's violence against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and the NATO airstrikes aimed at trying to induce Yugoslavia back to the peace table.
He urged the world to "pray to the lord, just risen from death, for peace and respect of human rights in the Balkans, to pray for the huge crowds of people who had to leave their homes and seek shelter in the neighboring countries."

It was an unusual move since the pope seldom begins a mass on the most holy feasts of the Catholic Church, like Easter or Christmas, with such an appeal.

The pontiff looked fit, though a little tired, after leading a very heavy Easter program since Maundy Thursday.

For the first time, olive-trees have been placed at various points in St. Peter's. It is to underline the strong desire for peace the holy see says it wants to pursue, despite the violence ravaging the Balkans.

John Paul ended the service by reading Easter greetings in Latin and 60 other languages.