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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, here's what the history of take-out food tells us about changes in American society

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: Dean Nadin from: Manchester
    December 25, 2012 9:19 AM
    Praying for peace - Works every time doesn't it?

    by: kottke
    December 25, 2012 9:19 AM
    Good job! Now all those people watching their families die feel good. Doing your part!

    by: Anonymous
    December 25, 2012 7:53 AM
    Gods bless them!

    by: John Wellon from: NL
    December 24, 2012 10:13 PM
    Other than a few devoted Catholics no one pays attention to what the Pope says anymore, he is just another wealthy figurehead of a bygone era, supported by gullible followers or Sheep.
    In Response

    by: James King
    December 25, 2012 10:21 AM
    Ron from Russia is so right. Hanna from USA is living in a fantasy land. Beatrice from Sussex has swallowed the media party line of respecting a liar. Papa Pizzeria is a religious charlatan. Jesus Christ saves; the Pope enslaves.
    In Response

    by: ron from: russia
    December 25, 2012 9:55 AM
    Wrong. The catholic church's history is one of murder/abuse, and occupation of all inhabitants under the lands they occupied. The pope was in full knowledge of the abuse of young boys by catholic leaders all the years, and this was just in the last 25 years. There is ample evidence to beleive this abuse is in every country the catholic church has occupied, and from their very beganning.
    In Response

    by: Hanno Phoenicia from: USA
    December 25, 2012 9:13 AM
    Your trollish remark illustrates an irony. While I'm not a Catholic, I note that while most major world leaders are busy creating trouble for their people and other countries, the Pope calls for peace in the world at every opportunity. Which of these leaders gets most of the ridicule? People don't just suffer misfortune, they often bring it on themselves. You're a stellar example of millions of such self defeating losers around the world.
    In Response

    by: Beatrice from: Sussex
    December 25, 2012 9:07 AM
    Please respect others rights and beliefs. Do not this GREAT DAY for us. PEACE!!

    by: John Sidoti from: North Carolina
    December 24, 2012 7:44 PM
    It seems every year since I can remember (70) a pope has prayed for peace. Should there be any doubt prayer doesn't work?
    In Response

    by: Hoosain Jacobs from: South Africa
    December 25, 2012 10:51 AM
    The Pope must pray to GOD for guidance.GOD will not change the condition of a peolple unless they change it themselves.Seems the Pope has not change nor did he find guidance.
    In Response

    by: illumine1911 from: UK
    December 25, 2012 9:34 AM
    Dear Mr Sidoti
    May be it is because they have prayed that there is whatever peace there is, and that things have not been worse than what they are
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora