A frenzy of cheering greeted Pope Benedict in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome. In his Christmas message, he confided a sense of dread over violence in the Middle East. He appealed for peace in Iraq, justice in Palestine, for “a democratic Lebanon” and an end to the conflict in Darfur. Yet he spoke of a strong apprehension, and what he called situations with no apparent way-out. He said:
“I trust in the infant of Bethlehem that signs of a resumption in the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, which we have witnessed lately, will, with hope, lead to positive developments.” Before tens of thousands of the faithful, he wished the world a Happy Christmas, in 62 languages. But to mark the second such celebration of his pontificate, the Pope said humanity in the 21st century needed a saviour now as much as ever. At midnight mass, he had spoken out against consumerism. He said that, everywhere, the image of the baby Jesus should remind everyone of abused and neglected children.
From Christendom’s largest church he stressed the importance of love over material necessities.