Pope Benedict prayed on Christmas for peace and stability around the world and called for an end to the many conflicts, which, he said, stain the earth with blood. The Vatican also condemned the Sunday bomb blasts at churches in Nigeria.
In his traditional Christmas message, Pope Benedict called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria, where he said, so much blood has already been shed. He urged full reconciliation and stability in Iraq and Afghanistan and called for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
The pope delivered his message "to the city and to the world" from the central loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica, overlooking a piazza packed with thousands of jubilant tourists and pilgrims.
He prayed that the Lord come to the aid of the world torn by so many conflicts. He then gave his blessing in dozens of languages.
"May the birth of the Prince of Peace remind the world where its true happiness lies; and may your hearts be filled with hope and joy, for the Savior has been born for us," said the pope.
The 84-year-old pope has been trying to conserve his strength during this busy time. Using a mobile platform, he was wheeled up the central aisle of Saint Peter’s Basilica on Christmas Eve.
In his homily, Benedict urged humanity to see through the superficial glitter and commercialism of the Christmas season and to rediscover the real significance of the humble birth of Jesus.
The Vatican on Sunday also reacted to the bomb blasts at churches in Nigeria, saying these are a manifestation of blind and absurd terrorist violence that enflames hate, even in these days that should be of joy and peace.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi expressed the hope that the violence does not weaken the will of the Nigerian people to live peacefully and promote dialogue in their country.