12/25/2005, 00.00
VATICAN
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Pope: Only in welcoming God can mankind find humanity and peace

In the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing, Benedict XVI talked about the "spiritual barrenness" threatening the technological man. Following the path of love indicated by God, mankind will be able to face problems like terrorism, poverty and environmental degradation. Mention was made of "men of goodwill" at work in the Holy Land, Lebanon, Iraq and Korea, "where signs of hope, which are not lacking, need to be confirmed by actions inspired by fairness and wisdom".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – If they open their hearts to the Child and allow themselves to be led by Him, people of the technological age will not be threatened by an interior void and "spiritual barrenness". Humanity can, through newfound unity, "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".

In his first "Urbi et Orbi" message, Benedict XVI tackled concerns facing man and the modern world. Some, like the Holy Land, Lebanon, Iraq and Korea, he mentioned specifically, implicitly implying that all these scenarios were the outcome of a likely human decision to shut oneself off from God's love, which he dealt with during Midnight Mass.

Addressing around 60,000 pilgrims who gathered in St Peter's Square despite the grey and rainy weather prevailing in Rome, not to mention 68 nations around the world linked to the event through 111 media stations, the Pope delivered Christmas greetings after the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.  Leaning out of the central balcony of the Vatican Basilica, he voiced greetings in 32 languages including Arabic, Chinese, Turkish, Russian, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.

Before the blessing, recalling the announcement made last night – "for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:10-11) – Benedict XVI talked about the "paradox of Christmas": "Divine glory hidden beneath the poverty of a Child wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger!... Once we accept this paradox, we discover the Truth that sets us free and the Love that transforms our lives. On Bethlehem Night, the Redeemer becomes one of us, our companion along the precarious paths of history. Let us take the hand which he stretches out to us: it is a hand which seeks to take nothing from us, but only to give."

And the angel's invitation to welcome the Saviour is extended to all. "May the people of today's world not hesitate to let him enter their homes, their cities, their nations, everywhere on earth! In the millennium just past, and especially in the last centuries, immense progress was made in the areas of technology and science. 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. 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. 'Wake up, O man! For your sake God became man' (Saint Augustine, Sermo, 185. Wake up, O men and women of the third millennium!

At Christmas, the Almighty becomes a child and asks for our help and protection. His way of showing that he is God challenges our way of being human. By knocking at our door, he challenges us and our freedom; he calls us to examine how we understand and live our lives. The modern age is often seen as an awakening of reason from its slumbers, humanity's enlightenment after an age of darkness. Yet without the light of Christ, the light of reason is not sufficient to enlighten humanity and the world.

"Men and women of today, humanity come of age yet often still so frail in mind and will, let the Child of Bethlehem take you by the hand! 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. May his love guide every people on earth and strengthen their common consciousness of being a 'family' called to foster relationships of trust and mutual support. 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.

"May the God who became man out of love for humanity strengthen all those in Africa who work for peace, integral development and the prevention of fratricidal conflicts, for the consolidation of the present, still fragile political transitions, and the protection of the most elementary rights of those experiencing tragic humanitarian crises, such as those in Darfur and in other regions of central Africa. May he lead the peoples of Latin America to live in peace and harmony. May he grant courage to people of good will in the Holy Land, in Iraq, in Lebanon, where signs of hope, which are not lacking, need to be confirmed by actions inspired by fairness and wisdom; may he favour the process of dialogue on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere in the countries of Asia, so that, by the settlement of dangerous disputes, consistent and peaceful conclusions can be reached in a spirit of friendship, conclusions which their peoples expectantly await."

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