Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter's Square
Pope Benedict XVI celebrates his 85th birthday.

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Easter Mass at St. Peter's Square Sunday morning and urged the Syrian government to cease attacks on its citizens and listen to international calls for dialogue.

In his peace message, the Pope also prayed for the peoples of Nigeria and Mali. As he spoke, another bomb explosion near a church in Nigeria killed at least 20 people.

"May the risen Christ grant hope to the Middle East and enable all the ethnic, cultural and religious groups in that region to work together to advance the common good and respect for human rights," said Pope Benedict during his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" (To the City and the World) Easter message, the BBC reported.

"Particularly in Syria, may there be an end to bloodshed and an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation, as called for by the international community," he continued.

The pontiff, soon to turn 85, sounded hoarse and looked tired during the Mass. Hours before, on Saturday night, he led the Easter vigil service at St. Peter's Basilica and conducted a baptism.

"Life is stronger than death. Good is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Truth is stronger than lies," Benedict told the faithful at the packed St Peter's Basilica on Saturday night, according to an Associated Press report.

"The darkness that poses a real threat to mankind, after all, is the fact that he can see and investigate tangible material things, but cannot see where the world is going or whence it comes, where our own life is going, what is good and what is evil," the pope told the gathering.

"If God and moral values, the difference between good and evil, remain in darkness, then all other 'lights,' that put such incredible technical feats within our reach, are not only progress but also dangers that put us and the world at risk," he added.

The pope, who recently visited Mexico and Cuba, turns 85 on April 16 and plans a three-day trip to Lebanon in September, the BBC has reported.