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

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

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.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs