Pope Francis calls on both sides in Syria to lay down their arms

(Photo: REUTERS / Tony Gentile)Pope Francis gives the thumb up as he leads the Easter mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican April 20, 2014

Pope Francis has during an Easter address urged those preventing humanitarian aid in  Syria to allow access and for both sides in the civil war to lay down their arms and negotiate for peace.

The Pope prayed for those "struck by the Ebola epidemic in Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone and Liberia," calling care for those suffering from diseases "spread through neglect and dire poverty."

The pontiff also called for peace in Ukraine while delivering his yearly "Urbi et Orbi" address to Rome and the world, before a crowd on St. Peter's square estimated at 150,000 on Easter Sunday.

He urged an end to "brutal terrorist attacks" in Nigeria as well as a halt to violence in South Sudan and Iraq.

"We pray in a particular way for Syria, that all those suffering the effects of the conflict can receive needed humanitarian aid and that neither side will again use deadly force, especially against the defenceless civil population, but instead boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue," Francis said.

The war that has waged in Syria since March 2011 has displaced millions of people making them refugees in other countries and it has claimed the lives of 150,000.

On a sunny in Rome day he led a mass to celebrate Christianity's most important day. It is the day in which Christians believe Jesus resurrected from the dead three days after his crucifixion.

"We ask you to enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence and, in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country's future," said the Pope.

Francis noted that churches such as the Russian Orthodox following the Julian calendar are this year following Easter as the same time as Western churches that have their feast according to the Julian calendar.

He asked for "reconciliation and fraternal concord in Venezuela."

Copyright © 2014 Ecumenical News