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.

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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
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