VATICAN CITY – Pope John Paul II marked his Christmas message with a plea to save the world from war and terrorism, Thursday, Dec. 26. The pontiff’s traditional Christmas blessing, known as “Urbi et Orbi” – “to the city and to the world,” followed a midnight mass Christmas Eve at the St. Peter’s Basilica.
"Save us from the wars and armed conflicts which lay waste whole areas of the world, from the scourge of terrorism and from the many forms of violence which assail the weak and the vulnerable,'' he said with particular reference to the Middle East.
"Save us from discouragement as we face the paths to peace, difficult paths indeed, yet possible and therefore necessary.''
John Paul has spoken out frequently during the past three years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, calling for leaders on both sides to have the courage to find peace. He has also frequently denounced terrorism and lamented the war in Iraq.
During his midnight mass homily, the Pope decried: "Too much blood is still being shed on earth! Too much violence and too many conflicts trouble the peaceful coexistence of nations!''
"You come to bring us peace,'' John Paul said of the baby Jesus. "You are our peace!''
The 83-year old pope delivered his remarks relatively clearly. He also offered his traditional Christmas greeting in 62 languages, including Aramaic, Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi, Maori and Swahili.