Pope says Christmas offers hope to world plagued by conflict
Pope John Paul II has said the celebration of Christmas should bring a sense of hope in a world that often seems overburdened by problems and conflicts.
Speaking at his weekly general audience on Wednesday, he said the coming of Christ should also remind people that there is more to life than material well-being and economic progress.
In his talk, the pope spoke philosophically about the impact of Christmas on people's daily lives. Above all, it should bring encouragement to those who feel dispirited by life's many difficulties, he said.
The Pope was taken to the Paul VI Hall on Wednesday for the audience by representatives of Catholic scouts, who also carried the "lamp of peace" brought from Bethlehem to the Vatican by representatives of the Scout movement.
The lamp's flame was lit in the Basilica of the Nativity in the town of Jesus' birth. It is being taken around Europe to light a candle or a lamp in parishes and institutions, as a sign of peace.
It was taken to Paul VI Hall today, for the general audience, by representatives of Catholic scouts.
The lamp has been touring Europe since 1986, the year the initiative was launched in Austria. Since then, scouts associations of diverse countries have committed themselves to take it around the world as a sign of Christian love and fraternity.
Pope says Christmas should bring hope, help ease life's burdens (Catholic News Service)
Bethlehem's "Light of Peace" Brought to Vatican (Zenit 17/12/03)
Last audience as Pope prepares for full Christmas schedule (CathNews 18/12/03)
Christmas Lesson: We Are Not Alone, Says Pope (Zenit 17/12/03)
Christmas tree is lit in St. Peter's Square (Associated Press/Indianapolis Star 18/12/03)
U.S.: 'Credible threat' of major attack in Italy: St. Peter's Square, Leaning Tower of Pisa get special attention (MSNBC 17/12/03)
Cardinal Highlights Papal Analysis of Terrorism (Zenit 17/12/03)
19 Dec 2003