by Philip Pullella
December 25, 2005
VATICAN CITY (Reuters)
Pope Benedict, in his first Christmas
address, on Sunday urged humanity to unite against terrorism, poverty and
environmental blight and called for a "New
World Order" to correct economic imbalances.
The Pope made his comments to tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered under
umbrellas in a rainy St Peter square for his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and
the world) message and blessing.
In his address, telecast live from the central balcony of St Peter's
Basilica to tens of millions of people in nearly 40 countries, he also urged
his listeners not to let technological achievements blind them to true human
He said humanity should look to the Christ child for encouragement in
times of difficulty and fear.
"A united humanity will be able to confront
the many troubling problems of the present time: from the menace of
terrorism to the humiliating poverty in which millions of human beings
live, from the proliferation of weapons to the pandemics and the
environmental destruction which threatens the future of our planet," he
"Do not fear; put your trust in him! The life-giving power of his light
is an incentive for building a
New World Order based on just
ethical and economic relationships," he said, speaking in Italian.
Marching bands of the Swiss Guard and Italian
police played for the crowd near a larger-than-life nativity scene, making
for a festive atmosphere despite the rain.
The address by the leader of the world's some 1.1 billion Roman Catholics
was different in style than those of his predecessor John Paul, who died
last April. John Paul wrote his Christmas addresses in free-style
verse and resembled poetry, whereas Benedict's was in prose like a normal
homily or speech.
After the address,
Benedict wished the world a Happy
Christmas in 33 languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, Swahili, Japanese and
His predecessor sometimes used twice as many
languages on Christmas.
DO NOT MAKE TECHNOLOGY
Since his election, the Pope has repeatedly reminded Catholics not to give
in to an "ethical relativism" where circumstances can be used to justify
actions that should be considered wrong in all cases.
The Pope, wearing a gold cape and with a gold mitre, continued in
that line on Sunday address by focusing on the dangers of technology and
"Today we can dispose of vast material
resources. But the men and women in our technological age risk becoming
victims of their own intellectual and technical achievements, ending up
in spiritual barrenness and emptiness of heart," he said.
"That is why it is so important for us to open our minds and hearts to
the birth of Christ, this event of salvation which can give new hope to
the life of each human being," he said.
He also urged respect for the rights of people
suffering in the Darfur region of Sudan, made another appeal for peace in
the Holy Land and called for "actions inspired by fairness and wisdom" in
Iraq and Lebanon.
The Pope asked God to favor dialogue on the Korean peninsula so that
"dangerous disputes" there and elsewhere in Asia can be solved peacefully.
The Sunday Urbi et Orbi followed a Christmas eve midnight mass attended by a
congregation that packed St Peter's Basilica.
In his homily at that mass he urged the world's Catholics to be beacons of
peace in a troubled world. The next major event on the Pope's Christmas
season calendar is a mass on the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6.
In early January, the Pope is due to publish his first encyclical, a major
writing addressed to all Church members.
The encyclical deals with the individual's
personal relationship with God.