Pope Calls For Peace And Hope In Middle East

Robert Siegel shares Christmas messages from the Pope and Queen Elizabeth.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel. And on this Christmas Day, 2012, we begin with the words of the Pope.

POPE BENEDICT XVI: (Speaking foreign language)

SIEGEL: Pope Benedict XVI offered his Christmas greetings before a packed St. Peters Square in Vatican City. He called for peace and hope in some of the world's toughest spots. He speaks here through an interpreter.

XVI: (Through interpreter) Yes, may peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict which does not spare even the defenseless and reaps innocent victims.

SIEGEL: Pope Benedict appealed for dialogue, both in Syria and in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and for the return of peace in parts of Africa. Turning to China, he addressed tensions between the Communist Party and Chinese Catholics and spoke of a high task which awaits the country's new leadership.

XVI: (Through interpreter) I express my hope that in fulfilling this task they will esteem the contribution of the religions in respect for each in such a way that they can help to build a fraternal society for the benefit of that noble people and of the whole world.

SIEGEL: The Pope, speaking today at the Vatican. Around the world, others are marking Christmas in ways traditional and modern. Thousands are descending on Bethlehem's Manger Square to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Thousands of others are descending upon the Staple Center in Los Angeles and other arenas for Christmas Day basketball.

And from Buckingham Palace came the annual address by Queen Elizabeth II, this year with a twist, it was filmed and broadcast in 3D.

QUEEN ELIZABETH II: This is the time of year when we remember that God sent his only son to serve, not to be served. It is my prayer this Christmas Day that His example and teaching will continue to bring people together to give the best of themselves in the service of others.

SIEGEL: Queen Elizabeth, speaking from Buckingham Palace.

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