Thousands of Christian pilgrims packed into the dark recesses of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem yesterday to celebrate Easter Sunday at the traditional site of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Garbed in white robes and a crimson skullcap, the Latin patriach of Jerusalem knelt and kissed the stone of anointment at the entrance, said to have held the body of Jesus after he was taken down from the cross, and read the Pontifical Mass of the Resurrection from a scarlet throne facing the opening of the cave revered as Christ's tomb.

Police reported no incidents of violence in the Old City, annexed by Israel after the 1967 war.

In Rome, Pope John Paul II addressed a crowd of 350,000 who filled St. Peter's Square. In his message, the pope deplored the irreligiosity of today's world and appealed for mankind to put trust in Christ.

"All of you who proclaim 'the death of God,' who seek to drive God out of the world, stop and think that 'the death of God' fatally carries within itself 'the death of man' too," the pontiff said.

"You who are building the world of peace . . . or of war, you who are building the world of order . . . or of terror, do not refuse Christ: he is the cornerstone."

The pope gave Easter greetings in 33 languages, including his native Polish, and, for the first time, in Hebrew.

In Peking and Shanghai, for the first time since the mid-1960s, Chinese of all ages flocked to Easter services in the cities' cathedrals. An estimated 1,500 Chinese overflowed into the aisles for the first of four morning masses in St. Mary's Cathedral in Peking. Most of the worshipers stayed for all four services.

It was the largest expression of Christian faith in China since the post-Mao leadership announced last year a return to the policy of tolerance for Christians, Buddhists and Moslems that existed before the Cultural Revolution.

All 40 of Moscow's open churches held services of overflow crowds despite the Soviet Union's official opposition to religious worship.

Crowds, including shawled grandmothers and young people, began gathering at Moscow's 50 operating Russian Orthodox churches before midnight Saturday for services that in many cases last all night.

At midnight, robed priests led the choir in a traditional procession around the church, proclaiming "khristos voskrey" -- Christ is risen -- to which the congregation replied: "Indeed, he is risen."

As the doors reopened for the procession to reenter the church, a pushing, shoving scramble was touched off by churchgoers eager for the limited space inside.

As usual, militiamen and unofficial guards wearing red armbands kept an eye on the milling crowds.In some cases, especially in outlying churches, churchgoers encountered harassment from guards.

One woman said many families fearing the heavy-handed militia and the crowds choose to observe Easter at home by lighting candles and burning incense.