Pope Benedict XVI focused his annual Christmas morning message on "reconciliation and peace," especially in Syria, North Africa, and the Middle East.
The pontiff spoke on the main balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica Sunday morning to deliver his “Urbi et Orbi,” Latin for “to the city and to the world” speech to thousands of tourists and pilgrims.
“May the Lord come to the aid of our world torn by so many conflicts which even today stain the Earth with blood,” Benedict told the crowd. more >>
Syria has finally signed a peace treaty that the global community is hoping will end the violence many believed could lead to a civil war.
On Monday, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told the press: “They advised us to sign the protocol and we followed their advice.”
It is unclear whose advice Moallem is citing, with the United States, NATO allies, and most recently, Russia all urging the Syrian government to sign the proposal. more >>
The death of longtime North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, 69, has the world on-the-edge, wondering how his successor will run the country and how his death will affect countries in Asia. There are not many answers to those questions yet, but responses to the North Korean leader’s death are pouring in.
The foreign ministers of both France and Australia said that the death of Kim Jong-il could serve as a sign of hope in the country that suffers from chronic food shortages, poor infrastructure, and frequent power outages.
“It is at times like this that we cannot afford to have any wrong or ambiguous signaling. This time also presents an important opportunity to the new North Korean leadership to engage fully with the international community,” said Australia’s Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd. more >>
The National Council of Churches recently held a meeting with Cuban church leaders and pledged to work for better relations between the two countries.
General Secretary Michael Kinnamon led discussions that ended with a joint statement saying, “It is the call to the churches of both countries to offer a word of hope in response to the anxiety and fear in both countries.”
The groups also agreed to work for the lifting of the 53-year-old embargo against Cuba. Leaders described the embargo as “the major obstacle to the resolution of differences, to economic interaction, and to fuller engagement of our peoples and churches.” more >>
Residents in Morocco are voting in a parliamentary election Friday, marking the first post-Arab Spring voting in the northern Africa country.
The elections will decide members of the nation’s parliament, though some worry the old regime is not willing to change.
It is unclear how many votes will be cast in the elections. Some groups have called for a boycott of the elections, citing the ruling monarchy’s unwillingness to change despite popular demands. more >>
Palestinians eager for self-empowerment and a state of their own are achieving mixed results on securing greater international support for their independence during recent interactions with the U.N.
The potential country achieved a major leap forward in global prominence by gaining admittance to UNESCO, the U.N.'s cultural agency, after 107 out of 173 U.N. members voted in favor of the status upgrade, according to The Associated Press.
By contrast, a proposed Nov. 11 bid by Palestinians to take a place amid U.N. members is in serious jeopardy after one of the organization's Security Council nations, Bosnia-Herzegovina, decided to abstain from voting on the proposal. The move leaves Palestine with eight confirmed votes, just short of the nine needed to sway the 15 nation board. more >>