News / Middle East

Pope Benedict Calls for Peace in Troubled Regions

Pope Benedict celebrates the Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, December 24, 2012
Pope Benedict celebrates the Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, December 24, 2012
VOA News
Pope Benedict has used his annual Christmas message to the world, calling for peace in global hot spots, including Syria.

The pontiff prayed Tuesday that "peace would spring up for the people of Syria," a country where tens of thousands have died in anti-government unrest.

As he stood on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica and addressed thousands of pilgrims below, he also called for peace in Mali, where al-Qaida linked militants occupy part of the country, and Nigeria, where Islamist extremists have waged a bloody campaign.

The pontiff also called on Israel and the Palestinians to find the "courage" to negotiate a settlement and asked China's new government to respect religion.

Meanwhile, thousands of tourists from all over the world gathered in the West Bank town of Bethlehem to celebrate the holiday at the place where Christians believe Jesus was born.

Last month the United Nations General Assembly voted to recognized the Palestinian Authority as a non-member state.

In his annual pre-Christmas homily, the top Roman Catholic bishop in the area, Fouad Twal, celebrated that achievement for the Palestinians and urged them to work with the Israelis to end the region's seemingly endless conflict.

Despite cold weather, the festivities continued late into the evening, with some tourists calling it a moving experience.

  • Pope Benedict delivers his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the City and to the World) speech from the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, December 25, 2012.
  • Vatican Swiss guards march in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, December 25, 2012.
  • Burmese Christians gather outside the St. Anthony's Catholic Church Rangoon, Burma, December 25, 2012.
  • Civilians in Santa Claus hats and service members with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force wait to be served Christmas dinner at the U.S.-led coalition base in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 25, 2012.
  • Members of the ice swimming club Berlin Seals attend the annual Christmas swimming at the partial frozen Oranke Lake in Berlin, Germany, December 25, 2012.
  • Pakistani women pray during an outdoor Mass on Christmas Day, in a Christian neighborhood in Islamabad, Pakistan, December 25, 2012.
  • British travelers, left to right, Liam Skalley, John Arthurs, Ben Saunders, Sam Hope and Liam Fillingham kick up their heels as they celebrate Christmas Day at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, December 25, 2012.
  • Kosovo Catholics attend a Christmas mass at St. Anthony church in Pristina, December 25, 2012.
  • Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall arrive for the British royal family's traditional Christmas Day church service in Sandringham, England, December 25, 2012.
  • Indonesians pray during a Christmas eve service at a church in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, December 24, 2012.
  • Christian worshippers and tourists celebrate at the Manger Square in front of the Church of the Nativity, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, December 24, 2012.
  • Musicians play brass instruments for the 35th Annual Dallas Merry Tubachristmas Concert at Thanks-Giving Square in downtown Dallas, Texas, December 24, 2012.

You May Like

Video Getting to Zero AIDS Infections

More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV, a disease that is both preventable and treatable

Children, Childhoods Lost in European Refugee Crisis

According to UNICEF, 190,000 children applied for political asylum in Europe in the first 9 months of this year - twice as many as last year

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Exenon from: Australia
December 26, 2012 3:37 AM
The catholic cardinal of Australia has lied about the guilt of the "devil priests" and protected paedophiles since he became a bishop. A few short weeks ago he declared the Jews to be an unintelligent people! and that the Germans (his boss included?) suffered far more than the Jews in WWII. He then retracted this statement saying "some of my best friends are Jews.

Pope Heinnrich can take his platitudes and blessings and stick them where his church of the holy hypocrite hides its' paedophiles

by: Alan Klees from: Naples, NC
December 25, 2012 5:52 PM
Why is the Pope and the church? The church exists for child sex and war. Why is the Pope speaking against these things? Why are the Leftists the biggest killers in history? I guess there is enough blame to go around, eh?

by: Geneva street from: usa
December 25, 2012 5:01 PM
Thanks be God that the pope still is that voice crying out in the wilderness. While the rest of the cynical world finds folly in prayer and believing just as they did 2,000 years ago, the rest of us find true peace and joy in Jesus Christ!

by: NVO from: USA
December 25, 2012 1:02 PM
Lets face the HISTORICAL FACTS, shall we?? The RC church is a CONFIRMED AMILLENNIAL/REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY church. BOTH doctrines based on and rooted in ANTISEMITISM! And to you people (duped people) that is; that are in complete DENIAL of this, you need to discover the history of the RC church and the doctrines that they propagate. Catholic beliefs and practices open up a HOST of theological problems, that are diametrically OPPOSED to Scripture and Christianity itself.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Denial and ignorance is NO excuse to remain in a so-called church that leads people astray with UNBIBLICAL doctrines. Beware of these goons walking around in their clerical garb twisting the Word of God. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them=Romans 16:17. Take the two SHAMEFUL doctrines of AMILLENNIALISM AND REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY, just for starters, do your HISTORICAL homework, then RUN from that den of lies. Pragmatics wins, NOT conjecture!

by: Serenity Ann Love
December 25, 2012 10:52 AM
How about stopping all the Child Molestation and Child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church?

How about allowing authorities in to arrest and jail all the child pedophiles?

How about admitting Catholic Church has a problem?

How about telling Catholics for every $1.00 donation, part of will pay out the victims?

After all that, you may world peace.

by: Bill Greenlee from: San Diego, Ca
December 25, 2012 10:46 AM
Thank you, Pope Benedict. I will file your call for world peace alongside the other annual call of all the previous Popes. And, what good does it do? Absolutely, nothing. The Papacy is about as separated from reality as anything I can imagine. Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton have done more to promote peace than any Pope in my memory. I can think of many others but a Pope? I can't think of any.

by: IsaacM50 from: Sarnia
December 25, 2012 10:11 AM
nice thought...but how many Muslims were watching? and does he have any sort of power over them....hmmmm.. Gotta look like you're doing something for the paycheck, I suppose.

by: Fred Flintsone
December 25, 2012 9:40 AM

Jer 10:2 “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them.3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless; theycut a tree out of the forest,and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.4 They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field,their idols cannot speak;they must be carried because they cannot walk.Do not fear them;they can do no harm nor can they do any good.”
Sound familiar?
In Response

by: Ed
December 25, 2012 11:14 AM
James King is a "King James only" fundamentalist kook who probably thinks the earth is 4000 years old and that Jesus spoke in Elizabethan English. Ignoring him is the best option. Merry Christmas, everyone!
In Response

by: James King
December 25, 2012 10:17 AM
Excellent passage, but it is perfectly preserved in the 1611 Authorized King James Bible. That's the only version that the Pope and company despises. All of the new bibles have roots in the Catholic club.

by: Nikki from: british columbia
December 25, 2012 9:32 AM

Will his secretary reveal what his real prayers were?

by: Mark from: Syracuse, IN
December 25, 2012 9:24 AM
It truly was the least he could do.
Comments page of 2

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs