Faithful in Bethlehem as Christmas mass urges peace
BETHLEHEM, Palestinian Territories (AFP) - Thousands of people streamed into the West Bank city of Bethlehem to mark Christmas, as the Latin Patriarch urged "men of good will" to seek peace in the Middle East.
In Vatican City meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI also prayed on Monday for peace in the region, including war-torn Syria, "that Christians in those lands where our faith was born may be able to continue living there, that Christians and Muslims may build up their countries side by side in God's peace."
Speaking in the traditional midnight mass in Bethlehem, where Christians believe Christ was born, the most senior Roman Catholic bishop in the Middle East appealed for regional peace and issued a special call for efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Only justice and peace in the Holy Land can reestablish balance and stability in the region and in the world," Patriarch Fuad Twal told a crowd packed into the St Catherine church, which adjoins the Church of Nativity.