12/25/2003, 00.00
vatican - christmas
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Christmas Message: Christ saves us from the great evils

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – On Christmas Day, after having celebrated Midnight Mass in St. Peter's basilica, wearing the traditional gold-colored vestments of Christmas, the Holy Father , from the central entrance of the Vatican basilica at noon, read his Christmas message and offered the Urbi et Orbi ("to the city and the world") blessing.

The Pope appeared to be stronger than usual, and he read his Christmas message in its entirety rather than having aides read portions of the prepared text.

In his Christmas message Pope John Paul II appealed to "Jesus Christ, savior of the world," to "save us from the great evils which have afflicted mankind in these first years of the 3rd millennium". Among the "great evils" he quoted: "the scourge of terrorism" and "the many forms of violence which assail the weak and vulnerable".

Clearly tired but happy, the Pope delivered his greetings to the world in 62 different languages, earning bursts of applause from the different language groups gathered in a sun-filled St. Peter's Square.

Here follows the full text of the Christmas message:

1. Descendit de caelis Salvator mundi. Gaudeamus!

The Savior of the world has come down from heaven. Let us rejoice!This proclamation, filled with deep rejoicing,echoed in the night of Bethlehem.Today the Church renews it with unchanged joy:the Saviour is born for us!A wave of tenderness and hope fills our hearts,together with an overpowering need for closeness and peace.In the crib we contemplate the Onewho stripped himself of divine gloryin order to become poor, driven by love for mankind.Beside the crib the Christmas tree,with its twinkling lights,reminds us that with the birth of Jesusthe tree of life has blossomed anew in the desert of humanity.The crib and the tree: precious symbols, which hand down in time the true meaning of Christmas!

2. In the heavens there echoes the proclamation of the angels:"To you is born a Savior in the city of David , who is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:11).What wonder!By being born in Bethlehem, the Eternal Son of Godhas entered into the history of each person living on the face of the earth. He is now present in the world as the one Savior of humanity. For this reason we pray to him:Savior of the world, save us!

3. Save us from the great evils which have afflicted mankind in these first years of the third millennium. Save us from the wars and armed conflicts which lay to waste entire regions of the world, from the scourge of terrorism and from the many forms of violence which assail the weak and the vulnerable. Save us from discouragement as we face the paths to peace, difficult paths indeed, yet possible and therefore necessary; paths which are always and everywhere urgent, especially in the Land where You were born, Prince of Peace.

4. And you, Mary, the Virgin of expectation and fulfilment,who hold the secret of Christmas, make us able to recognize in the Child whom you hold in your arms, the heralded Saviour,who brings hope and peace to all. With you we worship him and trustingly say:we need You, Redeemer of man,You who know the hopes and fears of our hearts. Come and stay with us, Lord!May the joy of your Nativity reach to the farthest ends of the universe!

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