Christians Flock to Bethlehem; Pope Calls for God in Fast-Paced World
Despite the tension and violence that shook the Holy Land this year, Christians from around the world flocked to Manger Square in Bethlehem on Monday to celebrate the birth of Jesus in the ancient West Bank town where he was born.
Others traveled to Vatican City, where Pope Benedict XVI had lit a Christmas peace candle set on the windowsill of his private studio. Pilgrims, tourists and Romans gathered below in St. Peter’s Square for the inauguration Monday evening of a Nativity scene and cheered when the flame was lit.
The pope marked Christmas Eve with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. The service began at 10 p.m. local time, or 4 p.m. ET. The midnight start time was changed at the Vatican years ago to let the pontiff rest before a Christmas Day speech to be delivered from the basilica’s central balcony.
In his homily, Benedict cited the Gospel account of Mary and Joseph finding no room at an inn and ending up in a stable which sheltered the baby Jesus. He urged people to reflect upon what they find time for in their busy, technology-driven lives.