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'Peace to the whole world': Pope Francis urges unity in first Easter Sunday address

In his first Easter Sunday since his election, Pope Francis led an open-air Mass in front of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, offering a message of peace. He called for an end to violence across the world and an easing of tensions in the Korean peninsula. NBC's Claudio Lavanga reports.

Pope Francis called for worldwide efforts towards peace in his first Easter Sunday address, urging leaders to find diplomatic solutions in Syria and North Korea.

In his first "Urbi et Orbi" message from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica, he also asked for reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians solutions to conflicts in several African countries.

Earlier this month, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina stood on the same balcony after being elected as the first pope from the Americas in more than 1,300 years.

Francis, who has emphasized a humbler style to the papacy, said: "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! May the risen Jesus bring comfort to the victims of natural disasters and make us responsible guardians of creation.”

Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Pope Francis greets the faithful prior to his first 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, Sunday.

He added: “Peace in Iraq, that every act of violence may end, and above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort.  How much blood has been shed!  And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?”

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Cardinals from around the world gathered in the Vatican to elect the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Earlier, the pontiff strode onto a flower-bedecked esplanade facing St Peter’s Square, into which tens of thousands of faithful had gathered from early Sunday, to lead the traditional open-air Mass.

Francis bowed his head in reflection as the Gospel was sung in Latin, The Associated Press reported, recounting what Christians believe is the central mystery of their faith — the resurrection of Jesus after this death by crucifixion.

"Let the risen Jesus enter your life,” the pope told worshippers before the service via his Twitter account. "He will receive you with open arms."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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