By SAM OTTI
Pope Benedict XVI yesterday prayed for the return of peace in Mali and harmony in Nigeria, where, he said savage acts of terrorism continue to reap victims, particularly among Christians. This intercessory prayer by the Supreme Pontiff came on the heels of heightened tensions over alleged plots by terrorists to launch fresh attacks in Kano State on Christmas Day.
Security operatives in the area had raised the alarm of insidious plots by suspected terrorist groups to bath the city with blood during the yuletide. A high sense of foreboding prevailed in other states of the North, following attacks on worshippers that resulted to scores of deaths. Major roads in Bauchi State were reportedly barricaded to avert danger. Delivering the Vatican’s traditional Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, the 85-year-old Pontiff wished Christmas peace to the world, decrying the slaughter of the defenseless in Syria and urging Israelis and Palestinians to find the courage to negotiate.
The Pope read his Christmas message and then holiday greetings in 65 languages. In his ‘Urbi et Orbi’ speech, which traditionally reviewed world events and global challenges, Benedict prayed that “peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict that does not spare even the defenseless and reaps innocent victims.”
called for easier access to help refugees and for “dialogue in the pursuit of a political solution to the conflict.” He prayed that God “grant Israelis and Palestinians courage to end long years of conflict and division, and to embark resolutely on the path to negotiation.”