VATICAN CITY -- In his first Easter Sunday message, Pope Francis passionately called for "peace in all the world," urging Israelis and Palestinians to "resume negotiations to end a conflict that has lasted all too long," calling for an end to the civil war in Syria, and promoting a "renewed spirit of reconciliation" on the Korean Peninsula, where tensions have been rising.
The pope's first "Urbi et Orbi" message -- Latin for to the city and the world -- also deplored a world "divided by greed looking for easy gain," a world wounded by a selfishness that manifests itself in human trafficking, by the "violence linked to drug trafficking and by the iniquitous exploitation of natural resources."
And, in keeping with his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, who is identified as the protector of animals and the environment, the pope called on all people to be "responsible guardians of creation."
An estimated 250,000 people jammed St. Peter's Square and nearby streets on Easter Sunday to celebrate the day on which Christians honor the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many also came to get a first glimpse of Francis, who became pope less than three weeks ago but has already made a forceful impact with his down-to-earth style.
The faithful were not disappointed on Sunday. After the Solemn Mass -- a pageantry-laden ceremony celebrated mostly in Latin -- he boarded an open-topped jeep and rode around St. Peter's Square as thousands of cameras, smartphones and tablet computers immortalized what unfolded: The pope waving cheerfully, kissing several babies and tenderly hugging a disabled boy. The images were relayed on large video screens in the square, and the crowd applauded and cheered.
"Pope Francis, we love you, have a happy Easter," read one heart-shaped placard held high above the crowd of Romans, tourists and pilgrims, many carrying banners and national flags.
Cool temperatures and rains have delayed spring weather in Rome, but the outdoor altar in front of the basilica was transformed into a flowered garden by tens of thousands of tulips, daffodils, azalea and other flowers. The pope gave a special thanks for the "beautiful flowers," which came from the Netherlands.
Francis delivered his Easter address from the central balcony above the main entrance on the baroque facade of St. Peter's Basilica, the same spot where he was introduced as pope after his election on March 13.
The Urbi et Orbi messages that popes deliver twice a year often include calls for peace, singling out active global conflicts. Francis on Sunday called for peace in the Middle East, and for the end of violence in Iraq and in Syria.
"How much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?" he said of the civil war in Syria and that has created more than a million refugees.
He called for peace in Africa, emphasizing Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Nigeria. And he asked the leaders of North Korea and South Korea to overcome disagreements and find "a renewed spirit of reconciliation." North Korea said it considered the Korean Peninsula back "in a state of war" after South Korea and the United States held a joint military exercise in early March following North Korea's third nuclear weapons test, in February.
Francis asked that his message enter into people's hearts and "go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest -- in hospitals, in prisons."
Easter is the celebration of Jesus's resurrection from the dead, three days after he was crucified, the premise for the Christian belief in an everlasting life. In urging peace, Francis called on Jesus to "change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace."
Correction: April 1, 2013, Monday
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: An earlier version of this article mischaracterized the Christian holiday of Easter. It is the celebration of Jesus's resurrection from the dead, not his resurrection into heaven.world
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.