VATICAN CITY, DEC 25, 2003 (VIS) - In his traditional Christmas message which he read from the atrium of St. Peter's Square, the Pope asked God to save humanity from war and conflict, from the plague of terrorism and from violence.
John Paul II said that with the birth of the Savior 'a wave of tenderness and hope fills our hearts, together with an overpowering need for closeness and peace. ' Beside the crib, the Christmas tree, with its twinkling lights, reminds us that with the birth of Jesus the tree of life has blossomed anew in the desert of humanity. The crib and the tree: precious symbols which hand down in time the true meaning of Christmas!'
'The Son of God,' said the Pope, 'has entered into the history of each person living on the face of the earth. He is now present in the world as the one Savior of humanity. For this reason we pray to him: Savior of the world, save us!'
'Save us from the great evils which rend humanity in these first years of the third millennium,' he exclaimed. '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. Save us from discouragement as we face the paths to peace, difficult paths indeed, yet possible and therefore necessary; paths which are always and everywhere urgent, especially in the Land where You were born, the Prince of Peace.'
The Holy Father asked Our Lady to make us 'able to recognize in the Child ' the heralded Savior, who brings hope and peace to all. With you we worship Him and trustingly say: we need You, Redeemer of man, You who know the hopes and fears of our hearts. Come and stay with us, Lord! May the joy of your Nativity reach to the farthest ends of the universe!'
After the message, the Pope delivered Christmas greetings in 62 languages to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square and to everyone who watched on television and listened on the radio. Later he imparted the 'Urbi et Orbi' (to the city and the world) blessing.
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