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Pope's Christmas wish: hope for a better world

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 25, 2013 at 10:53 a.m.

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Pope Francis delivers his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the City and to the World) message from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Pope Francis on Christmas day is wishing for a better world, with peace for the land of Jesus' birth, for Syria and Africa as well as for the dignity of migrants and refugees fleeing misery and conflict. Francis spoke from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica Wednesday to tens of thousands of tourists, pilgrims and Romans in the square below. He said he was joining in the song of Christmas angels with all those hoping "for a better world," and with those who "care for others, humbly."

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis offered Christmas wishes Wednesday for a better world, praying for protection for Christians under attack, battered women and trafficked children, peace in the Middle East and Africa, and dignity for refugees fleeing misery and conflict around the globe.

Francis delivered the traditional "Urbi et Orbi" (Latin for "to the city and to the world") speech from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica to more than 70,000 cheering tourists, pilgrims and Romans in the square below.

In his first Christmas message since being elected pontiff in March, he asked for all to share in the song of Christmas angels, "for every man or woman ... who hopes for a better world, who cares for others," humbly.

Among places ravaged by conflict, Francis singled out Syria, which saw its third Christmas during civil war; South Sudan; the Central African Republic; Nigeria; and Iraq.

In Iraq on Wednesday, militants targeted Christians in two attacks, including a bomb that exploded near a church during Christmas Mass in Baghdad. The separate bombings killed dozens of people.

The Vatican has been trying to raise concern in the world for persecution and attacks on Christians in parts of the Middle East and Africa.

"Lord of life, protect all who are persecuted in your name," Francis said.

Adding an off-the-cuff remark, Francis said he was also inviting non-believers to join their desire for peace with everyone else.

The pope also prayed that God "bless the land where you chose to come into the world and grant a favorable outcome to the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians."

Francis then explained his concept of peace.

"True peace is not a balancing of opposing forces. It's not a lovely facade which conceals conflicts and divisions," the pope said. "Peace calls for daily commitment," Francis said, reading the pages of his speech as they were ruffled by a chilly wind.

Francis also spoke of the lives of everyday people, especially those struggling for a better life.

Recalling the hundreds of migrants who have drowned this year while trying to reach European shores, including many close to the Italian island of Lampedusa, Francis prayed that refugees receive hope, consolation and assistance.

He added that "our thoughts turn to those children who are the most vulnerable victims of wars, but we think, too, of the elderly, of battered women" and others.

Comments on: Pope's Christmas wish: hope for a better world

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Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 total comments

Fdworfe says... December 25, 2013 at 12:31 p.m.

Not being Catholic and far short of qualifications to critique in depth the present papacy, I must at least say this man seems to have the courage of his convictions even if the ceiling falls in. Maybe that’s a particle of what the Christian religion is all about—taking a moral stand, that is. And of course, facing the realities of a rapidly and drastically changing world with a mind of its own, over which no one person or no one body can have much control. Good luck to His Holiness, and may we exercise our humanity and common sense, for those are in the final analysis about all we have to survive.

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djigoo says... December 25, 2013 at 12:45 p.m.

Truly a man of God. Viva il Papa!

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melaniemlandrum04061343 says... December 25, 2013 at 1:25 p.m.

God bless and protect this pope. I am not Catholic but, as my father would say, he is the real deal.

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