VATICAN CITY, DEC 25, 2004 (VIS) - In his traditional Christmas Message, which he read at midday today in St. Peter's Square, the Pope called for an end to all forms of violence and encouraged dialogue and reconciliation.
John Paul II said, "Let there be an end to the spread of violence in its many forms, the source of untold suffering; let there be an end to the numerous situations of unrest which risk degenerating into open conflict; let there arise a firm will to seek peaceful solutions, respectful of the legitimate aspirations of individuals and peoples."
"Babe of Bethlehem, Prophet of peace, encourage attempts to promote dialogue and reconciliation, sustain the efforts to build peace, which hesitantly, yet not without hope, are being made to bring about a more tranquil present and future for so many of our brothers and sisters in the world."
Referring to the continent of Africa, the Holy Father recalled the "tragedy of Darfur in Sudan, of the Ivory Coast and of the Great Lakes Region. With great apprehension I follow the situation in Iraq. And how can I fail to look with anxious concern, but also invincible confidence, towards that Land of which you are a son?"
"Everywhere peace is needed!" the Pope exclaimed. "You, Prince of true peace, help us to understand that the only way to build peace is to flee in horror from evil, and to pursue goodness with courage and perseverance. Men and women of good will, of every people on the earth, come confidently to the crib of the Savior! 'He who bestows the Kingdom of heaven does not take away human kingdoms'. Hasten to meet him; he comes to teach us the way of truth, peace and love."
After reading the message, the Pope, making a notable effort, wished the faithful present in St. Peter's Square and people all over the world tuned in via radio or television in 62 languages. Later he imparted the "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing.
MESS/URBI ET ORBI/... VIS 20041228 (360)