Pope condemns ‘absurd violence’ against Christian churches

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI today condemned a series of deadly attacks against Christian churches and other targets around the world at Christmas time.

The pope appealed for peace after bombs went off in churches in the Philippines and Nigeria, killing or wounding several worshipers. In Pakistan, a suicide bombing against a World Food Program depot left at least 40 dead.

Here is a CNS translation of the pope’s appeal:

At this time of holy Christmas, the desire and the pleas for peace have become still more intense. But our world continues to be marked by violence, especially against the disciples of Christ. I learned with great sadness of the attack on a Catholic church in the Philippines, during the celebration of the Christmas Day liturgy, as well as attacks against Christian churches in Nigeria. The earth has also been stained with blood in other parts of the world, like Pakistan. I wish to express my heartfelt condolences for the victims of this absurd violence. Once again I make an appeal to abandon the path of hatred in order to find peaceful solutions to conflicts and bring security and tranquility to these dear populations. On the day in which we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, who lived the dramatic experience of having to flee into Egypt because of the homicidal fury of Herod, let us remember all those, in particular families, who are forced to abandon their homes because of war, violence and intolerance. I invite you, therefore, to join me in praying fervently that the Lord may touch people’s hearts and bring hope, reconciliation and peace.