VATICAN CITY • Pope Francis has urged the world, in his Easter message, to use the "weapons of love" to combat the evil of "blind and brutal violence", following the terror attacks in Brussels.
After a week of sombre religious events commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Pope Francis held an Easter Sunday Mass under tight security for tens of thousands of people in St Peter's Square.
Afterwards, in his traditional, twice-yearly "Urbi et Orbi"(to the city and the world) message, he spoke of violence, injustice and threats to peace in many parts of the world.
"May he (the risen Jesus) draw us closer on this Easter feast to the victims of terrorism, that blind and brutal form of violence which continues to shed blood in different parts of the world," he said, speaking from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica.
The 79-year-old Argentinian pontiff condemned last Tuesday's fatal bombings several times during the past week, including at a Good Friday service where he said followers of religions who carried out acts of fundamentalism or terrorism were profaning God's name.
Security was very tight around the square, which was bedecked with more than 35,000 flowers and plants donated by the Netherlands.
Police checked people several times at various points towards the square and subjected those with entry tickets to body and bag searches even before they passed through metal detectors.