· Benedict XVI's prayer for the victims of the Christmas massacres in Nigeria, for reconciliation and universal peace ·
May “the hands of the violent” which “sow death” be stopped, and “may the Lord come to the help of humanity wounded by so many conflicts “that are still bathing the planet in blood today”. Deeply saddened by the umpteenth Christmas with bloodshed, which this year too materialized with particular brutality in Nigeria, Benedict XVI asked the faithful gathered in St Peter's Square on 26 December for the Marian prayer of the Angelus, to pray “even more forcefully”, that “justice and peace may prevail throughout the world”.
The Pope's appeal was the last moment of a tragic succession of invocations of peace and feral news which this year too has unfortunately marked the Christmas celebrations. The Pontiff expressed to the faithful on the day on which the Church celebrates the first martyr of her history, St Stephen, all his sadness and his “sincere and affectionate closeness to the Christian community in Nigeria and in particular to all those who have been affected by an act that he did not hesitate to describe as “absurd”. Once again he appealed “to the various members of society” for the “restoration of safety and serenity”. And he pointed to respect, reconciliation and love as “the only way to achieve peace”.
In his homily at the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, Benedict XVI expressed his worries in the face of the terrors and contradictions of today's world, similar to those in “pre-Christian times”, that make people fear “that God himself might not be good either, that he too might well be cruel and arbitrary”. These preoccupations were dispelled in those long ago years by the “epiphany”, in other words, “the great light that has appeared to us: God is pure goodness”. Today too, the Pope emphasized, people “who are no longer able to recognize God through faith are asking whether the ultimate power that underpins and sustains the world is truly good, or whether evil is just as powerful and primordial as the good”. The response is in the certainty, ever “new” and “consoling”, that is granted to us at Christmas: when “the kindness and love of God... for mankind were revealed”. Invoking this love for all the people who are suffering today because of the “oppressors' rods”, in his Urbi et Orbi Message Benedict XVI relaunched his prayer to the Saviour to implore #with trust and hope: “ Veni ad salvandum nos ”.
St. Peter’s Square
Sept. 22, 2019
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