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Pope Francis Celebrates First Easter Since His Election (PICTURES)

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Pope Francis has celebrated his first Easter Sunday since his election, with a huge open-air Mass at the Vatican.

Thousands packed into St Peter's Square on Sunday morning before the new pope addressed the crowds from the balcony.

He reached out to non-believers, urging them to 'step forward' towards God.

And he toured the square in his popemobile, smiling and waving at the crowds.

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Earlier he tweeted an Easter message to his 2.2 million followers.

Pope Francis wrote: "Accept the risen Jesus into your life.

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Pope Francis leads the Easter Saturday vigil

"Even if you have been far away, take a small step towards him: he awaits you with open arms."


Pope Francis
Accept the risen Jesus into your life. Even if you have been far away, take a small step towards him: he awaits you with open arms.

Meanwhile, the Catholic leader of England and Wales hailed Easter as a "triumph of light over darkness and life over death".

Pope washes and kisses prisoners' feet

In his Easter Vigil, the Archbishop of Westminster quoted Pope Francis as he called for believers to live their faith with a "young heart".

Preaching at Westminster Cathedral, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols also referred to the "wounds inflicted upon humanity by evil".

He said: "Let us be honest and realistic. We know the reality of sin, each and every one of us.

"This week, Pope Francis spoke of its reality in these words: 'Look around - how many wounds are inflicted upon humanity by evil. Wars, violence, economic conflicts that hit the weakest, greed for money which none of us can take with us.'

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Pope Francis Washes And Kisses The Feet Of Offenders At A Juvenile Detention Center In Rome
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Pope Francis to celebrate his first Easter vigil