Pope Benedict XVI has called in his Easter message for a renewed push for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
It comes just weeks before the 81 year old travels to the Holy Land for the first time as pontiff.
On the trip he will visit the Jordanian capital Amman, Jerusalem and Nazareth in Israel, and Palestinian-ruled Bethlehem.
The visit follows a major crisis in Catholic-Jewish relations after the pope lifted the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson, who had denied elements of the holocaust.
The Pope – who turns 82 this week – delivered his twice-yearly “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) blessing and message and delivered Easter greetings in 63 languages.
He also sent a message of comfort to survivors of Italy’s devastating earthquake and urged all those fearful for their futures, in a time of world food shortages and financial turmoil, not to lose hope.
Earlier the Roman Catholic leader had celebrated an Easter Mass for tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square in Rome as Christians around the world commemorated Jesus Christ’s resurrection after his crucifixion.