Pope laments suffering in war zones

In his Easter Sunday message, Pope Benedict XVI decried human suffering in several countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

Pope Benedict XVI decried theviolence in Iraq, instability in Afghanistan and human suffering elsewhere in the world as he spoke toEaster Sunday pilgrimsat the Vatican.

Before the mass, the Pope led a procession through thousands of worshippers at St. Peter's Square,before mounting the steps of Saint Peter's Basilica and making his way to the balcony, where he delivered the traditional"Urbi et Orbi" (to the City and to the World) address.

Benedict saidthat "nothing positive" is happening in Iraq and voiced concern over the unrest and instability in Afghanistan and bloodshed in parts of Africa and Asia.

"How many wounds, how much suffering there is in the world," the pontiff said.

"Afghanistan is marked by growing unrest and instability," Benedict said. "In the Middle East, besides some signs of hope in the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, nothing positive comes from Iraq, torn apart by continual slaughter as the civil population flees."

Benedict read out a litany of troubling current events, saying he was thinking of the "terrorism and kidnapping of people, of the thousand faces of violence which some people attempt to justify in the name of religion, of contempt for life, of the violation of human rights and the exploitation of persons."

He singled out what he called the "catastrophic, and sad to say, underestimated, humanitarian situation" in Darfur as well as other African countries with unrest, including Congo and Somalia.

The Pope talked about the "grievous crisis" in Zimbabwe, marked by crackdowns on dissidents, a disastrous economy and severe corruption.

Benedict said only a negotiated solution could end the drawn-out, bloody conflict in Sri Lanka, and said East Timor needs reconciliation ahead of elections.

With files from the Associated Press