NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — On Christianity’s most joyful day, Pope Francis in his Easter Sunday message called for peace in a world marked by war and conflict, “beginning with the beloved and long-suffering land of Syria,” and extending to the entire Middle East, the Korean peninsula and parts of Africa affected by “hunger, endemic conflicts and terrorism.”
Francis reflected on the power of Christianity’s core belief — that Jesus rose from the dead following crucifixion — in his formal “Urbi et Orbi” Easter message delivered from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to a packed square below.
The pontiff said the message of the resurrection offers hope in a world “marked by so many acts of injustice and violence.”
At St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, Timothy Cardinal Dolan shared a message of mercy, hope and second chances during Easter mass.
He also praised the family of fallen FDNY hero Michael Davidson. Dolan said he was inspired by the strength of Davidson’s wife, Eileen, their four children, and other firefighters. Davidson died last month fighting a five-alarm fire in Harlem.
Parishioners heading into mass shared their Easter excitement with CBS2’s Marc Liverman.
“It’s been a special week so, you know, if you believe then today is the celebration of when Jesus is risen from the dead so it’s amazing what humanity has done or come around for this one guy,” one man said. “It’s a special day.”
Francis called for a “swift end” to carnage in Syria, demanding that aid be delivered to the needy there and calling for “fitting conditions for the returned and the displaced.” The pope also urged reconciliation in Israel and hoped that mutual respect would “prevail over divisions” in Yemen and the entire Middle East.
Turning to Asia, Francis hoped that talks underway could bring peace to the Korean peninsula, urging “those who are directly responsible act with wisdom and discernment to promote the good of the Korean people.”
For Ukraine, the pope urged more steps to bring harmony to that divided nation. He also called for peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, urging the world not to forget victims of conflict, especially children.
“May there be no lack of solidarity with all those forced to leave their native lands and lacking the bare essentials for living,” said the pope who has often championed the cause of migrants and refugees.
The church’s first pontiff from Latin America cited in particular the problems in Venezuela, voicing hope the country would “find a just, peaceful and humane way to surmount quickly the political and humanitarian crises that grip it.”
Earlier, tens of thousands of faithful underwent heavy security checks to enter St. Peter’s Square to participate in Easter Sunday Mass celebrated by the pope, followed by his “Urbi et Orbi” message (“to the city and the world”).
Security precautions included bag checks and metal detector wands for everyone entering the square, while the main avenue leading to the Vatican, as well as smaller adjoining streets, were closed to traffic.
Francis opened Easter festivities with a Tweet to his global flock: “Our faith is born on Easter morning: Jesus is alive! The experience is at the heart of the Christian message.”
Elsewhere, hundreds of Christians marked Easter by flocking to Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the site where they believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.
Just down the steps from St. Pat’s in Midtown, the annual Easter parade was held. Thousands of people came together donning colorful hats and marched their way through Midtown, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.
There were bright bursts of fun and the outfits were overflowing with creativity. Easter bonnets bobbed along Fifth Avenue. This New York City tradition has been around since the 1870s.
“I want to do something that honored New York and was about the spirit of New York and New York is style. It is grace. It is elegance,” Midtown resident Liz Savage said.
Some bonnet accessories include animals, like the pair of goats CBS2’s Carlin saw.
“This is Lady Daffodil and this is Lord Stinky,” Midtown resident Heidi Lusk said.
A stampede of goat gawkers stopped to snap photos and to pet the animals.
“This is all about spreading the cheer of Easter and bringing animals to humans,” Lusk said.
The most popular bonnets welcomed spring and asked for no more snow.
“I think we are overdue for flowers, especially after all the nor’easters, so it’s nice to have fake flowers until we get the real ones,” Brooklyn resident Cynthia Lugo said.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)