December 25, 2013

Pope’s Christmas wish: hope for a better world

Francis asks for peace and understanding among warring nations, and compassion and assistance for refugees and immigrants.

By Frances D’emilio
Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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In this picture provided by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, 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.”

AP Photo/L’Osservatore Romano

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Swiss guards stand at attention prior to the start of Pope Francis “Urbi et Orbi” (to the City and to the World) message he delivered 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.”

AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

Additional Photos Below

The top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, led a prayer for some 1,000 worshippers. "The whole world now is looking at Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus," Twal said in his annual address, adding that the message of Jesus was one of "love and reconciliation."

Bethlehem lies 10 kilometers (six miles) south of Jerusalem. Entry to the city is controlled by Israel, which occupied the West Bank in 1967.

Following a Palestinian uprising that began in 2000, the numbers of visitors to Bethlehem had plunged. But thanks to a period of relative calm, they have been steadily climbing in recent years.

Iskandar Salameh, an 18-year-old Palestinian, said the Christmas spirit was uniting those gathered Wednesday. "We all feel that Jesus is with us today," he said.

In Britain, the royal family turned out in force for a Christmas church service, but the newest family member, Prince George, son of Prince William and Kate, was nowhere in sight.

Cicely Howard said she asked about the baby when she greeted Kate outside the church. Howard told the British news agency Press Association that Kate described George as being "more interested in the wrapping paper than the presents." Britain's Queen Elizabeth in a pre-recorded Christmas message urged reflection among the distractions of the holiday period.

In his speech, Pope Francis also recalled the victims of natural disasters, especially Filipinos suffering from the recent typhoon in their homeland.

In North America, many spent a dark and cold holiday following an ice storm.

President Barack Obama encouraged fellow Americans to embrace the spirit of Christmas by volunteering at soup kitchens, buying presents for children in need or organizing food or clothing donation drives.

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Altar boys wait for Pope Francis to deliver 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.”

AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

click image to enlarge

In this combined picture Pope Francis, top, and Pope Benedict XVI deliver their “Urbi et Orbi” (to the City and to the World) message from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, respectively on Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013 and Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. The 77-year-old Francis kept to the style simplicity he has set for his papacy. Wearing a plain white cassock, Francis presented a sharp contrast in appearance when compared to the pope who stood on the same balcony on Christmas exactly a year ago. Then Benedict XVI, who was soon to stun the world with his retirement last winter, read his Christmas speech while dressed in a crimson, ermine-trimmed cape.

AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

click image to enlarge

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.”

AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

click image to enlarge

An Argentine flag is waved by faithful prior to Pope Francis “Urbi et Orbi” (to the City and to the World) message he delivered 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.”

AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

  


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