VATICAN, Dec. 20. 00 (CWNews.com) -- At his regular public audience on
Wednesday, Pope John Paul II turned his attention to Bethlehem.

"In these days, Bethlehem becomes the place to which the eyes of all
believers are turned," the Holy Father remarked. He underlined the
importance of the Christmas celebration in this Jubilee year, marking the
2000th anniversary of Christ's birth. His fondest hope, he said, is that
"Christmas reawakens in everyone the will to be active and courageous
builders of the civilization of love."

In an apparent reference to the tensions that are now afflicting Bethlehem,
the Pope went on to say that "on the road to a better understanding among
peoples, the challenges that the world must face are still many." He called on
all men of good will to join in the effort to promote better relations between
different cultures. And he made a special request for his listeners to pray for
peace in Bethlehem itself for the Christmas celebration.