Pope prays for Nigeria at Easter
•Calls for end to Syria bloodshed
Monday, April 09,  2012

Pope Benedict XVI yesterday prayed that the joy of Easter grant Nigeria the strength needed to take up anew the building of a society which is peaceful and respectful of the religious freedom of all its citizens.

He condemned the “savage terrorist attacks” against Christian churches in Nigeria. Nigeria in recent times has experienced savage terrorist attacks. The prayer for Nigeria was contained in the Pope’s annual Easter Mass message from the Vatican as Christians worldwide marked the holiday.

He called for an end to violence in Syria, as well as a renewed peace effort in the Middle East’ “May the risen Christ grant hope to the Middle East and enable all the ethnic, cultural and religious groups in that region to work together to advance the common good and respect for human rights,” the pope said in his “Urbi et Orbi” (“To the City and to the World”) message in St. Peter’s Square.

“Particularly in Syria, may there be an end to bloodshed and an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation, as called for by the international community, he said. “May the many refugees from that country who are in need of humanitarian assistance find the acceptance and solidarity capable of relieving their dreadful sufferings.”
Meanwhile, Syria yesterday demanded written guarantees that insurgents will stop fighting before it pulls back troops under the terms of a peace plan, casting additional doubt over a truce due to start this week. Escalating violence has already raised questions over the ceasefire.

The deal Kofi Annan brokered calls on Syria to begin the pullback of troops from around towns and cities by Tuesday for a truce to start 48 hours later. While emphasizing that would happen, Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said in a statement that Syria also wanted the written guarantees.

The Iraqi people, Pope said, should be encouraged to “spare no effort in pursuing the path of stability and development. In the Holy Land, may Israelis and Palestinians courageously take up anew the peace process.” And the pope asked that “the risen Jesus comfort the suffering populations of the Horn of Africa and favor their reconciliation,” including Sudan and South Sudan, “and grant their inhabitants the power of forgiveness. In Mali, now experiencing delicate political developments, may the glorious Christ grant peace and stability.

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