BROOKLYN - (AP) - Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square, the Catholic church's most joyous celebration, began with a senior cardinal hailing Pope Benedict XVI for "unfailing" leadership and courage.

Easter Sunday Mass was the last major Holy Week appearance by the pope in Rome for the thousands of faithful who have poured into the city. They cheered Benedict at the end of Sunday's two-hour-long ceremony in the cobblestone square bedecked with daffodils, tulips and azaleas.

After the Mass, Benedict moved to the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica to deliver his "Urbi et Orbi" message - Latin for "to the city and to the world" - which analyzes humanity's failings and hopes.

He singled out the "trials and sufferings," including persecution and even death, of Christians in Iraq and Pakistan, and of people in Haiti and Chile, devastated by earthquakes. He hoped for peaceful coexistence to win out over criminal violence in Latin American countries plagued by drug trafficking, and promised to pray for peace in the Middle East.