Pope Francis delivers message of peace on Easter

Vatican City, Mar 31 (EFE) - Pope Francis called on Easter Sunday for peace in a world "still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century."

"Peace to the whole world, torn apart by violence linked to drug trafficking and by the iniquitous exploitation of natural resources! Peace to this our Earth! Made the risen Jesus bring comfort to the victims of natural disasters and make us responsible guardians of creation," the pope said.

Francis pleaded during his first Easter as pontiff for peace in Syria and the Korean peninsula, where tensions have risen following North Korea's declaration of a "state of war" against South Korea and threats to attack the United States.

The 76-year-old pope told the approximately 250,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square and nearby streets that he was overjoyed to have been elected to the papacy just before Holy Week.

The pontiff did not give a homily during Easter Mass because he gave his Easter message and "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing right after the service.

"What a joy it is to announce this message: Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons? Most of all, I would like it to enter every heart, for it is there that God wants to sow this Good News: Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin or of evil! Love has triumphed! Mercy has been victorious! God's mercy always triumphs!" the pope said.

The pope's Easter message ended the Holy Week rites, and the pontiff will return to St. Peter's Square on Monday to pray the Regina Coeli at noon.

Pope Francis was elected the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church on March 13.