VARIOUS: Christian worshippers at the Vatican and in the Middle East celebrate Easter
- Title: VARIOUS: Christian worshippers at the Vatican and in the Middle East celebrate Easter
- Date: 23rd March 2008
- Summary: (BN09) GAZA (MARCH 23, 2008) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF CHURCH PEOPLE ENTERING CHURCH VARIOUS OF CHURCH SERVICE CONGREGATION SINGING CANDLES BURNING VARIOUS OF NUNS ATTENDING SERVICE CROSS OUTSIDE CHURCH (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) TEACHER, SHADI ABU DAOUD, SAYING: "We are trying to experience the happiness of the feast so that joy can enter the lives of the Palestinians who are living through very difficult times."
- Reuters ID: LVAB2DFDEIF0H9U20VLYGQEURA6
- Duration: 00:00:59
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- Topics: Religion
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- Story Text: Pope Benedict calls in his Easter message for an end to injustice, hatred and violence around the world, including in Tibet, Iraq and Darfur. Christians in Iraq and in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip attend Easter Sunday services.
Pope Benedict called in his Easter message on Sunday (March 23) for an end to injustice, hatred and violence around the world, including in Tibet, Iraq and Darfur.
The pope, who turns 81 next month, celebrated an Easter Mass for tens of thousands of people in a driving rain in St. Peter's Square as Christians around the world commemorated Christ's resurrection.
"How can we fail to remember certain African regions, such as Darfur and Somalia, the tormented Middle East, especially the Holy Land, Iraq, Lebanon, and finally Tibet, all of whom I encourage to seek solutions that will safeguard peace and the common good," the pontiff told the pilgrims standing in the rain at the Vatican.
Iraqi Christians on Sunday jammed the Holy Heart Church in central Baghdad after attacks on a number of churches in recent years had seen attendance fall dramatically.
The abduction and death of Paulos Farad Rahho, 65, was the most high-profile attack on Iraq's Christians since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
It drew international condemnation, including from U.S. President George W.
Bush and Pope Benedict.
"On this feast, we seize the chance to pray for the unity of Iraq and for the peace to prevail in Iraq . Despite our recent tragedies and grief for the loss of our people who were pillars of our church, we say that God's will will prevail. We hope that this feast and our prayers will be an opportunity to bring us together," priest Thaer al-Sheikh, who led the mass service, told Reuters.
Thousands of Christians have fled Iraq, mainly to neighbouring Syria and Jordan where more than 1.5 million Iraqis currently live. Christians account for just 3 percent Iraq's 26 million people.
In the Islamist Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, dozens of Christians attended an Easter Sunday service at a local church in Gaza City.
"We are trying to experience the happiness of the feast so that joy can enter the lives of the Palestinians who are living through very difficult times," Shadi Abu Daoud, a teacher in the Gaza Strip, said.
Palestinians in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, revered as the birthplace of Jesus, attended Easter Sunday prayers at the Church of the Nativity. The church was built on what is believed to be the site where the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus.
Easter Sunday marks the day that according to Christian belief, Jesus was resurrected three days after his death by crucifixion.
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- Embargoed:7th April 2008 13:00