Pope Benedict XVI Delivers Christmas Message

(RFERL)

In his traditional Christmas Day message, Pope Benedict has appealed for a lasting peace in the world's hot spots such as Somalia, Darfur, and Ivory Coast and called for a peaceful coexistence in the Middle East.

""May the light of Christmas shine forth anew in the land where Jesus was born, and inspire Israelis and Palestinians to strive for a just and peaceful coexistence,"" said the 83-year-old pontiff during a noon ceremony.

The pope pronounced his Christmas good wishes in 65 languages in his traditional Urbi et Orbi (""to the city and to the world"") blessing delivered before the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican.

The pontiff called for respect for human rights in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and reconciliation between North and South Korea. He prayed for the people of Haiti suffering from the aftermaths of a devastating earthquake and a recent cholera epidemic.

He also offered words of comfort for Christians living in the Middle East and called on ""the leaders of nations to show them effective solidarity.""

""May the comforting message of the coming of Emmanuel ease the pain and bring consolation amid their trials to the beloved Christian communities in Iraq and throughout the Middle East,"" the pope said.
AFP