Pope Francis Goes Off-Script At Easter Mass, Addressing World Conflict

Pope Francis offered an off-the-cuff homily to the crowd at the Vatican's Easter Sunday Mass, telling his followers to look for hope amid conflict.
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Pope Francis Goes Off-Script At Easter Mass, Addressing World Conflict

Pope Francis went off-script Easter Sunday, encouraging his followers to trust their faith despite the violence and growing tension around the world.

Normally, the pope doesn't give a homily during Easter Mass. Instead, he'll wait for his noon message, which he delivers from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. This year, though, he broke with tradition.

In the unscripted homily, Pope Francis said Easter brings a positive "sign in the midst of so many calamities."

Later in the morning, the pope delivered his expected remarks from the balcony of the basilica, where he spoke against oppressive regimes, calling the Syrian population "prey to a war that continues to sow horror and death." 

He also called for world leaders to have "the courage they need to prevent the spread of conflicts and to put a halt to the arms trade."

Easter Sunday visitors were met with stricter security measures than usual. Vatican officials said threats against the pope, as well as recent attacks in London and Stockholm, called for their heaviest security checks ever for a public event in Vatican City.

Despite the extra security, some 60,000 people filled St. Peter's Square to hear the pope's Easter Mass — his fifth Easter as pontiff.