Bethlehem Birth Shows Value of Human Life, Says Pope

In Christmas Homily, He Laments Violence in World

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2003 ( John Paul II says that in the manger at Bethlehem God shows the value of all human life, for which he became man more than two millenniums ago.

The Pope delivered that message in his homily at the Christmas Midnight Mass he presided over in St. Peter’s Basilica. Some 10,000 people participated in the Mass.

Looking tired but firm, the Holy Father addressed himself to the Child Jesus in the homily: «May the gift of your life make us understand ever more clearly the worth of the life of each human being.»

«The Prince of Peace is born in the lowly and cold cave of Bethlehem,» he recalled. «In the austere poverty of the crib we contemplate a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. … Let us pause in silence and worship.»

«May the radiance of your birth light up the night of the world. May the power of your message of love thwart the proud snares of the evil one,» the Holy Father added.

«Too much blood is still being shed on the earth! Too much violence and too many conflicts trouble the peaceful coexistence of nations!» he exclaimed. «You come to bring us peace. You are our peace!»

One of the petitions in the Prayer of the Faithful was for nations martyred by war and guerrilla movements. Another, in Arabic, was for those who recognize Abraham as a spiritual father — Jews, Muslims and Christians — to renounce «all sentiments and action of hate, revenge and violence.»

The Mass was broadcast by 78 television channels in 48 countries.

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