Pope Francis calls for peace and reconciliation in Easter message

Rome, Apr 20 (EFE).- Pope Francis used his second Easter message as pontiff on Sunday to call for peace and asked for Jesus' help to end "all war and every conflict, whether great or small, ancient or recent."

The 77-year-old pope urged people to work toward reconciliation to end conflicts such as the ones in Syria, Ukraine, Iraq, the Central African Republic and Venezuela.

Pope Francis asked the people of Venezuela to turn toward "reconciliation and fraternal concord" to end the conflict between President Nicolas Maduro's administration and the opposition.

"Enable us to protect the vulnerable, especially children, women and the elderly, who are at times exploited and abandoned," the pontiff said.

Pope Francis prayed that Jesus would intercede to end the "ebola epidemic in Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and to care for those suffering from so many other diseases which are also spread through neglect and dire poverty."

The pope delivered his Easter message and "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing to approximately 150,000 people who gathered in St. Peter's Square and nearby streets to mark the end of Holy Week.

"Lord, we pray to you for all the peoples of the earth: you who have conquered death, grant us your life, grant us your peace!" the pope said.

The pontiff celebrated Easter Mass on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica before delivering his message.

Pope Francis was elected the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church on March 13, 2013.