On the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, at 11am in the Central Loggia of the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father delivered his 2011 Christmas Message – Urbi et Orbi.
What does Urbi et Orbi mean? Translated, it’s “for the city and for the world” and is a papal address and Apostolic Blessing not only for the city of Rome but for the entire world. The blessing is given at Christmas and Easter.
In this year’s message, the Holy Father called for Christians to look to the Child of Bethlehem to stand in spiritual union with “the many people who experience particularly difficult situations; let us speak out for those who have no voice”.
Pope Benedict asked for God’s help for the people of the Horn of Africa, who have suffered famine and acute food shortages. He asked for prayers for the flood victims in South East Asia – particularly Thailand and the Philippines, and turned his attention to the Middle East, calling for peace between Israelis and Palestinians and an end to the bloodshed in Syria:
“May the Prince of Peace grant peace and stability to that Land where he chose to come into the world, and encourage the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. May he bring an end to the violence in Syria, where so much blood has already been shed. May he foster full reconciliation and stability in Iraq and Afghanistan. May he grant renewed vigour to all elements of society in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East as they strive to advance the common good.”
The Holy Father also offered words for the South Sudanese as they strive for stability after the split from the north in July 2011 and remembered the people of Myanmar (Burma) looking forward to dialogue and cooperation in the country.
Middle East Analysis
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Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
His Beatitude Fouad Twal’s Christmas Message
Official Christmas 2011 section on vatican.va
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