ROME — In a poignant Easter address, Pope Francis denounced brutal crimes and war — the “spiritual and moral abysses of mankind” that provoke hatred and death — and proclaimed that only God’s mercy can save the world.

The Easter Sunday Urbi et Orbi address, “to the city and the world,” is normally used by popes to offer a review of the global situation, and Francis held to form, ticking off a series of challenges to peace and stability: From the conflict in Syria and terrorism across Europe and the Middle East, to the war in Ukraine and the social unrest in Venezuela.

He addressed the thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square, amid heightened security controls after the recent terrorist attacks in Brussels, from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Francis began with Syria: “To the power of the risen Lord we entrust the talks now in course, that good will and the cooperation of all will bear fruit in peace and initiate the building of a fraternal society respectful of the dignity and rights of each citizen,” he said.

The pope also prayed for “other areas of the Mediterranean and the Middle East,” such as Iraq, also an ISIS stronghold, as well as Yemen and Libya.

Talking about the Holy Land, he said he hoped Christ’s resurrection might favor peace between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as the patience and commitment to set the foundations of a lasting peace.

Regarding the war in Ukraine, he called for a definitive solution, and expressed his hope for “the Lord of Life” to inspire humanitarian aid, “including the liberation of those who are detained.”

Although Francis didn’t mention the case specifically, his words could be a reference to Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, recently condemned by a Russian court to 22 years in prison for calling in coordinates for shelling that killed two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine.

The pope did make a direct reference to terrorism, saying he hoped Easter  might “draw us closer” to the victims of “that blind and brutal form of violence which continues to shed blood in different parts of the world,” such as Belgium, Turkey, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Côte d’Ivoire.

From Latin America, his home continent, Francis only spoke of Venezuela, wishing for Sunday’s message to be felt not only in the people, who live in difficult conditions, but also by “those responsible for the country’s future.”

“May efforts be made everywhere to promote the culture of counter, justice and reciprocal respect, which alone can guarantee the spiritual and material welfare of all people,” he said.

The last sections of his address, which took place after he celebrated the Easter Mass, had an even more global scope, with Francis mentioning several situations of suffering, if not any particular geography.

For instance, Francis called for “the Easter message of the risen Christ” to be one of life for all humanity, leading the world to remember “the men and women seeking a better future,” particularly the “throng of migrants and refugees – including many children – fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice.”

He then mentioned many issues that have been at the top of his “social” agenda, such as modern-day slavery, those affected by drought or violent flooding as consequences of climate change, and those who have “lost all hope and joy in life,” such as the elderly who struggle alone, the young “who seem to have no future.”

To those persecuted “for their faith and their fidelity to the name of Christ,” Francis invited them to “hear once again the comforting words of the Lord: ‘Take courage; I have conquered the world!’”