Benedict XVI Pleads for Peace

Cites Mideast, Darfur and Sri Lanka in Message

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2006 (ZENIT.org).- Benedict XVI in his Christmas message made an appeal for peace in the Mideast, especially between Israelis and Palestinians, and in Iraq.



"With deep apprehension I think, on this festive day, of the Middle East, marked by so many grave crises and conflicts," said the Pope today from the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica to the crowds that filled St. Peter's Square.

"I express my hope that the way will be opened to a just and lasting peace, with respect for the inalienable rights of the peoples living there," added the Holy Father.

"I place in the hands of the divine Child of Bethlehem the indications of a resumption of dialogue between the Israelis and Palestinians, which we have witnessed in recent days, and the hope of further encouraging developments," the Pontiff continued.

"I am confident that, after so many victims, destruction and uncertainty, a democratic Lebanon, open to others and in dialogue with different cultures and religions, will survive and progress," Benedict XVI said.

Likewise, he made an appeal "to all those who hold in their hands the fate of Iraq, that there will be an end to the brutal violence that has brought so much bloodshed to the country, and that every one of its inhabitants will be safe to lead a normal life."

Fratricidal conflicts

The Pontiff also mentioned troubled areas in Asia and Africa.

In particular he raised a prayer to God so that "in Sri Lanka the parties in conflict will heed the desire of the people for a future of brotherhood and solidarity."

Benedict XVI also prayed "that in Darfur and throughout Africa there will be an end to fratricidal conflicts, that the open wounds in that continent will quickly heal and that the steps being made toward reconciliation, democracy and development will be consolidated."

He added: "May the Divine Child, the Prince of Peace, grant an end to the outbreaks of tension that make uncertain the future of other parts of the world, in Europe and in Latin America."