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

US, Brazil's Climate-Change Plan: More Renewables, Less Deforestation

Officials say joint initiative on climate change will allow Brazil, United States to strengthen and accelerate cooperation on issues ranging from land use to clean energy More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

After Nearly a Century, Voodoo Opera Rises Again

Opera centers on character named Lolo, a Louisiana plantation worker and Voodoo priestess 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.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs