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Pope prays for peace in Syria, Holy Land; religious freedom in China

Catholic World News - December 26, 2012

In his Urbi et Orbi message, Pope Benedict XVI made special appeals for peace in Syria, the Holy Land, and Africa, and for religious freedom in China.

The Pope delivered his traditional message from the balcony of St. Peter’s basilica at noon on Christmas Day. Having presided at midnight Mass just hours earlier, he showed signs of fatigue and his voice was slightly hoarse as he delivered short messages in 65 different languages.

The Pope began by calling attention to the current Year of Faith. He remarked that the “human ability to be closed to God can make us fearful.” But especially at Christmas time, he said, believers know “the hope that conquers fear.”

In a review of the world’s trouble spots, the Pope offered prayers for peace first in Syria, where he called for an end to “a conflict which does not spare even the defenseless and reaps innocent victims.” Next he turned to the Holy Land, praying that Israelis and Palestinians will have the “courage to end to long years of conflict and division.”

The Pope also mentioned conflicts in northern Africa, and especially the turmoil in Egypt. He referred as well to the violence that has struck other African countries: Mali, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kenya.

Pope Benedict made a special mention of the new political leaders of China, praying that “they will esteem the contribution of the religions, in respect for each, in such a way that they can help to build a fraternal society for the benefit of that noble People and of the whole world.”

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