Benedict XVI Pleads for Peace
Cites Mideast, Darfur and Sri Lanka in Message

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2006 ( 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

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."