Thursday, December 25, 2008
Pope Benedict XVI blesses children as he celebrates the Christmas Midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, early Thursday, Dec. 25, 2008. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
My Way News reports on the Supreme Pontiff's Midnight Mass sermon:
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Christmas Midnight Mass early Thursday by sending out an appeal for children who are abused, forced to live on the street or serve as soldiers.
In the splendor of St. Peter's Basilica, Benedict marked the birth of Jesus with a call to the faithful to help children who are denied the love of their parents and those who are exploited across the world.
"The Child of Bethlehem summons us once again to do everything in our power to put an end to the suffering of these children," he said.
Delivering his homily in Italian, Benedict recalled the plight of "street children who do not have the blessing of a family home, of those children who are brutally exploited as soldiers and made instruments of violence, instead of messengers of reconciliation and peace."
"Let us think also of the place named Bethlehem, of the land in which Jesus lived, and which he loved so deeply," he said. "Let us pray that peace will be established there, that hatred and violence will cease. Let us pray for mutual understanding, that hearts will be opened, so that borders can be opened."
Benedict is expected to visit the Holy Land in May for what would be the first papal trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories since the late Pope John Paul II traveled there in a 2000 pilgrimage.
As Midnight Mass began on Thursday, the 81-year-old Benedict, dressed in white and gold-colored vestments, walked in a procession up the basilica's main aisle, smiling and stopping several times to shake outstretched hands and bless children.
A a choir intoned a Psalm, as the pope sprinkled incense on the central altar under Bernini's towering bronze baldachin before opening the service with the traditional wish for peace in Latin: "Pax vobis" ("Peace be with you"). The faithful responded: "Et cum spiritu tuo" ("And also with you").
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Sky News has a picture gallery worthy of review, of the Benedict XVI's guiding appearance last evening.