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Pope in Christmas message urges peace in Africa and Asia
Published in Bikya Masr on 25 - 12 - 2011

Vatican City (dpa) – In his traditional Christmas Day message on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI urged the faithful to seek a “spiritual union” with the less fortunate around the world, including in Africa and Asia, where people are suffering from the effects of wars and natural disasters.
The pontiff's words came against the backdrop of reports of a suspected bomb blast in a church in Nigeria which killed at least 10 and injured dozens.
Appearing at noon from the central loggia of St Peter's Basilica, the 84-year-old pontiff also pronounced Christmas blessings in 65 languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi, Swahili and his native German.
“May the birth of the Prince of Peace remind the world where its true happiness lies; and may your hearts be filled with hope and joy, for the Savior has been born for us,” Benedict said to the tens of thousands who had gathered in St Peter's Square on a crisp and sunny winter day.
The Urbi et Orbi (to the people of Rome and to the world) blessing was broadcast on television and radio to more than 60 countries.
The spiritual leader of the world's more than 1.1 billion Catholics mentioned several of the world's trouble spots, expressing the need to “speak out for those who have no voice.”
Benedict asked God's help for the peoples of the Horn of Africa, “who suffer from hunger and food shortages, aggravated at times by a persistent state of insecurity.”
“May the international community not fail to offer assistance to the many displaced persons coming from that region and whose dignity has been sorely tried,” the pontiff said.
To the people of South-East Asia, particularly Thailand and the Philippines, “who are still enduring grave hardships as a result of the recent floods,” Benedict implored that the “Lord grant them comfort.”
The pontiff also asked God to “encourage the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians” and for an end to the violence in Syria.
Benedict prayed for a “full reconciliation and stability” in Iraq and Afghanistan and for dialogue and cooperation in Myanmar.
“May the Nativity of the Redeemer ensure political stability to the countries of the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and assist the people of South Sudan in their commitment to safeguarding the rights of all citizens,” the pontiff added.
Hours earlier, Benedict ushered the Vatican's Christmas celebrations by leading traditional midnight Christmas Mass in St Peter's Basilica.
Tags: Christmas, Message, Pope Benedict, Vatican
Section: Africa, Asia, Latest News, Religion

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