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Pope calls for end to conflicts

Vatican City, Dec. 25 (Reuters): Pope Benedict today said he hoped Christmas would bring consolation to those living in poverty, injustice and war and appealed for just solutions to conflicts in Iraq, the Holy Land, Afghanistan and Africa.

In his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) Christmas Day message, the Pope also urged people in modern societies to accept the light of Christ and warned that many human tragedies were caused by environmental upheavals.

“May this Christmas truly be for all people a day of joy, hope and peace,” he said in his address from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica to thousands of people below.

The address was broadcast live to some 57 countries and after it the Pope, sitting on a throne and wearing elaborately embroidered gold vestments, read Christmas greetings in 63 languages.

“May the light of Christ, which comes to enlighten every human being, shine forth and bring consolation to those who live in the darkness of poverty, injustice and war,” he said. Christmas should bring hope to those “still denied their legitimate aspirations for a more secure existence, for health, education, stable employment, for fuller participation in civil and political responsibilities, free from oppression and protected from conditions that offend against human dignity”.

The Pope said he was close to society’s most vulnerable members, who were often the main victims of conflict and terrorism — women, children, the elderly, migrants, refugees and evacuees.

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