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Photos: Pope Francis leads Easter Mass at the Vatican

Tens of thousands of faithful entered St. Peter’s Square to participate in Easter Sunday Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on April 1, 2018.

WATCH: Pope Francis delivers Easter message after Mass at the Vatican

Pope Francis delivered his annual Easter message Sunday after leading Mass at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City.

>> Watch the Mass here

>> PHOTOS: Pope Francis leads Easter Mass at the Vatican

In his “Urbi et Orbi” (“to the city and the world”) message, the pope asked for prayers for Syria; the Holy Land, Yemen and the Middle East; Africa; North and South Korea; Ukraine; and Venezuela.

>> Click here to watch

>> What is Easter Monday and how is it celebrated?

The pope also prayed for children who “grow up without hope, lacking education and health care” and elderly people “who are cast off by a selfish culture,” according to Catholic news site Crux.

>> Read more trending news 

See more at the Vatican's website here.

Obama talks ushering in next generation of leaders, creating 'a million young Barack Obamas'

Former President Barack Obama wants to help usher in the next generation of young leaders, he said Sunday at a conference in Japan.

>> Click here to watch

According to the Washington Examiner and the Guardian, Obama discussed the Obama Foundation's efforts to make a "platform for young, up-and-coming leaders" to connect with each other online.

>> March for Our Lives: See what the gun reform rally looked like from outer space

"If I could do that effectively, then – you know – I would create a hundred or a thousand or a million young Barack Obamas or Michelle Obamas – or the next group of people who could take that baton in that relay race that is human progress," Obama said, the Examiner reported.

>> PHOTOS: March for Our Lives

He also spoke about young people's ability to spark change, citing the March for Our Lives rallies in the wake of last month's deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

>> March for Our Lives: Emma Gonzalez stands in silence for Parkland victims, stuns crowd

This was all because of the courage and effort of a handful of 15- and 16-year-olds who took the responsibility that so often adults had failed to take in trying to find a solution to this problem, and I think that’s a testimony to what happens when young people are given opportunities," he said, according to the Guardian. "And I think all institutions have to think about how do we tap into that creativity and that energy and that drive because it’s there. It’s just so often we say: 'Wait your turn.'”

>> Read more trending news 

He added: "A lot of our problems are caused by old men. No offense, men who are old."

Read more here or here.

Earth Hour 2018: Landmarks around the world go dark for climate change awareness

From the Sydney Opera House to Paris' Eiffel Tower, landmarks around the world went dark Saturday night for Earth Hour.

>> Read more trending news 

The "symbolic lights-out event," which began in Sydney in 2007, is designed to raise awareness about climate change, according to the World Wildlife Fund

>> Click here or scroll down to see photos from the event

French officer who traded places with a hostage in supermarket attack dies

A police officer who offered to trade places with a hostage during a standoff at a supermarket in southern France died Saturday morning, CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

Lt.-Col. Arnaud Beltrame, 45, was shot by 26-year-old Redouane Lakdim as he entered the Super U market in Trèbes on Friday.

Beltrame "fell as a hero" and showed "exceptional courage", French President Emmanuel Macron said.

>> 3 dead in France supermarket hostage situation, 1 other killed in carjacking

Ladkim killed two people and wounded 16 others, two seriously, when he entered the supermarket, the BBC reported. Before that, Ladkim killed another person while stealing a car

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb announced Beltrame’s death Saturday, which raises the number of people killed to four.

"France will never forget his heroism, his bravery, his sacrifice," Collomb tweeted.

When Beltrame went inside the supermarket, he left his phone on so police could hear his interactions with the gunman, Collomb told CNN.

>> Worst terror attacks in France since 2012

As soon as they heard gunfire, police went in and killed the gunman.

Lakdim allegedly demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, the most important surviving suspect in the November 2015 attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people, the BBC reported.

Easter 2018: When is it; what is it; why isn't it on the same date every year?

“Hey, do you have any idea when Christmas is?” is not a question you usually hear in late November or early December.

Major holidays are stamped on our calendars, often with little symbols, in case you didn’t realize that a cartoon turkey means Thanksgiving. 

Easter, however, is different. The date of Easter, when Christians celebrate the risen Christ, is different every year. 

>> Read more trending news

Many factors have contributed to keeping the date a guessing game, but the rolling calendar on Easter is due mainly to astronomy and a group of men who got together in the ancient city of Nicaea to come up with a system of deciding when to celebrate the holiest day in the Christian calendar.

Here is a look at the origins of the remembrance, the reason for the floating date and when Easter will be celebrated this year.

What is Easter?On Easter, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus of Nazareth was a carpenter who became an itinerant preacher at the age of 30. For the next three years, he drew thousands of followers in the relatively small area where he preached. 

When Jewish leaders and Roman officials began to feel threatened by his growing popularity, he was arrested as he came into Jerusalem for the Jewish festival of Passover. He stood trial, was found guilty by a crowd and was mocked, beaten and eventually crucified. Followers believe that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion.

The Old Testament prophecy of a messiah being persecuted, then executed, then resurrected – all for the sins of his followers -- is believed by many to have been fulfilled with Jesus’ death.

>>How did crucifixion kill Jesus?

Where in the Bible is the story of Jesus’ execution?The story of Jesus’ death appears in all four of the Gospels of the New Testament. You’ll find them in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 and John 18.

When is Easter this year?Easter is on April 1 in 2018.

Why is it on different dates every year?

The answer is not a simple one. In 325 CE,  the Council of Nicaea, a gathering of Christian bishops, decided that there should be a more organized and universal way to decide when Easter would be celebrated. The council decided that the remembrance would be held the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox.

The date for the vernal equinox was based on the ecclesiastical approximation of March 21. If the full moon falls on a Sunday, Easter is delayed a week.

How early and how late can Easter be celebrated?Easter can come as early as March 22, and as late as April 25 in the Gregorian calendar.

What does the word Easter mean?It could be from the name of the fertility goddess Eostre. It could be from the Norse "eostur" or "eastur," meaning “the season of the growing sun,” or some combination of those terms and others from pagan festivals and ceremonies.

When was Easter first celebrated?It’s not known when the first remembrance of Jesus’ death took place, but there are records of ceremonies beginning in the 2nd century. The celebrations were held around the Jewish Passover each year, a date that was dependent on the vernal equinox.

What are Good Friday and Maundy Thursday?Good Friday commemorates the day on which Jesus was crucified. Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, the final meal that Jesus had with his disciples.

How did a bunny become a symbol?No one is really sure about how the Easter Bunny came into being, but, he/she likely is a combination of several ancient harvest festival symbols. History.com says the bunny could have come from the pagan festival of Eostre. Eostre is a goddess of fertility and, because of the rabbit’s reputation for, shall we say, productivity, the animal became the symbol for Eostre.

Historians believe it is likely that the festival with its bunny symbol made its way through Europe and gave birth to the Osterhase, or Oschter Haws – an egg-laying rabbit popular in German fiction. German immigrants brought with them to America the tradition of laying colored eggs as gifts in nests built by children during a spring festival. 

Eventually, the bunny started to bring candy and other gifts with the eggs on Easter morning as a sign of the celebration of new life.

Exit poll: Putin wins re-election in landslide

Vladimir Putin earned a convincing victory in Sunday’s presidential election in Russia, winning 73.9 percent of the vote as he was re-elected to his fourth term, CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

A state-run exit poll revealed the results, which was not a surprise, CNN reported. Pavel Grudinin was second with 11.2 percent of the vote, according to the exit poll that was conducted bt the Russia Public Opinion Research Center.

Putin will serve another four years as president.

The exit polls are not final and official results are expected later Sunday, CNN reported.

Kathmandu plane crash: At least 50 dead, several injured, officials say

A passenger plane caught fire, then crashed while landing at Nepal’s Kathmandu airport Monday.

 >> PHOTOS: Kathmandu plane crash kills dozens, Nepal police say

>> Read more trending news 

Greek officials vow action after soccer team owner enters pitch with gun 

Sports officials in Greece are investigating the actions of one team owner, who apparently was carrying a gun when he charged onto the pitch to protest a disputed goal at the end of Sunday’s Greek Super League match, Reuters reported.

>> Read more trending news

Greece’s sports minister said Monday he was considering sanctions against Ivan Savvides, the owner of soccer team PAOK and one of the country’s richest men. Photographs and video footage showed Savvides, with what appeared to be revolver strapped to a holster on his waist, trying to intervene in the closing moments of a home match against rival AEK of Athens, Reuters reported.

After Fernando Varela scored from a header in the 89th minute, putting PAOK ahead 1-0, the referee signaled a score but then disallowed it for offside, ESPN reported. Savvides walked onto the pitch twice to protest the call. The first time he was wearing an overcoat; the second time, his coat was off and his holster was in plain view, Reuters reported. Savvides did not draw a weapon from the holster.

The goal was eventually allowed to stand and PAOK was awarded a 1-0 win, ESPN reported.

AEK officials claimed Savvidis threatened the referee during his trip onto the pitch.

"We suddenly saw a man on the pitch with bodyguards and everyone started saying it was the PAOK president and he went first to the referee and then to our bench and started threatening everyone," AEK Athens coach Manolo Jimenez told Radio Marca.

"We didn't fear for our lives initially, but then, when I saw the photographs of the gun, you think to yourself, 'What if he does something crazy and pulls it out?' It's true that initially we didn't know that he had a gun on his belt, but that could be a small thing as he could have authorization to carry one, but what isn't normal is that a president jumps onto the pitch to protest and threatens a referee.”

Images of “persons entering sports grounds armed” harm PAOK and soccer in general, Greek Deputy Culture and Sports Minister Georgios Vassiliadis said in a written statement Monday.

“Such extreme phenomena call for bold decisions,” Vassiliadis said.

Photos: Kathmandu plane crash kills dozens, Nepal police say

A police official says dozens of people were killed when a plane crashed as it landed at the Kathmandu airport in Nepal.

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