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Pope leads Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis is celebrating his first Easter Sunday Mass as pontiff in St. Peter's Square, which is packed by joyous pilgrims, tourists and Romans.

Francis strode onto the flower-bedecked esplanade in front of St. Peter's Basilica. Francis bowed his head in reflection as the Gospel was sung in Latin, recounting what Christians believe is the central mystery of their faith - the resurrection of Jesus after this death by crucifixion.

After heavy rain battered Rome during the night, Sunny skies alternated with clouds as the ceremony began.

In the traditional Easter Sunday speech, Francis called for peace, saying conflicts have lasted too long in Syria, and between Israelis and Palestinians.

Francis also urged reconciliation on the Korean peninsula.

Before a crowd of 250,000, he also denounced warfare and terrorism in Africa, and decried a greedy affluent world looking for "easy gain."

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