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In Easter Address, Pope Condemns Violence Against Christians

Pope Francis delivers the <em>Urbi et Orbi</em> blessing at the end of the Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, on Sunday.

Pope Francis, in his annual Urbi et Orbi ("To the City [Rome] and to the World") Easter address at St. Peter's Basilica, praised the framework agreement on Iran's nuclear program and expressed concern about bloodshed in Africa and the Middle East.

"[In] hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world," the pope said in his first public comment on the deal reached in Switzerland.

The Associated Press reports that

"During Mass, Francis was shielded from pelting rain by a canopy erected outside St. Peter's Basilica, while prelates carried umbrellas in the yellow and white colors of the Vatican.

"The downpour petered out to a drizzle, and by the end of the ceremony, the rain had stopped. Francis, wearing a white overcoat, was driven through the square in the open-sided popemobile so he could wave to the faithful."

The pope asked for peace and denounced "arms dealers, who earn their living with the blood of men and women."

Speaking of "absurd bloodshed and all barbarous acts of violence," the pontiff singled out the fighting in places such as Yemen, Nigeria, Syria, Iraq and Libya and decried Christians targeted by Islamist extremists and "the suffering of so many of our brothers persecuted because of his name."

He also called for the warring parties in Ukraine to "rediscover peace and hope thanks to the commitment of all interested parties."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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