Pope Benedict the XVI has expressed his hope for an end to conflicts around the world in his traditional Christmas message from the Vatican.
Addressing a large crowd from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica, he called for peaceful co-existence in the Middle East. He also called for political leaders to show solidarity with Christians throughout the Middle East, saying that those living in Iraq faced persecution. The Pontiff appealed for peace in Somalia, Darfur, Ivory Coast and Madagascar. The Pope also urged greater respect for human rights in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
At a Mass at St Peter’s, he prayed for God to “implant peace in our hearts”. The Pope delivers the Urbi et Orbi – meaning to the city (Rome) and to the world – address twice a year, at Easter and Christmas. An estimated 100,000 people had gathered in the square outside St Peter’s – wet from rain – to hear the sermon.