Denying God no path to peace - pope

Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI said in his Christmas Eve mass on Monday that religion can be corrupted, leading to violence and wars, but refuted critics who claim that denying God's existence would lead to peace.

"It is true that religion can become corrupted... when people think they have to take God’s cause into their own hands, making God into their private property," the pope told thousands gathered in Saint Peter's basilica.

"Monotheism, belief in one God, is said to be arrogance, a cause of intolerance, because by its nature, with its claim to possess the sole truth, it seeks to impose itself on everyone," Benedict said.

However, "while there is no denying a certain misuse of religion in history, yet it is not true that denial of God would lead to peace", he added.

"Down the centuries, while there has been misuse of religion, it is also true that forces of reconciliation and goodness have constantly sprung up from faith in the God," said Benedict, whose campaign against religious violence is one of the cornerstones of his papacy.

The spiritual leader of the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics also said that the speed of modern life left no time for God, and called on the faithful to make "room at the inn" for the world's poor and suffering.

"I am repeatedly struck by the Gospel writer's almost casual remark that there was no room for them at the inn," he said in reference to the story of Christ's birth in a stable because Mary and Joseph could find no other refuge.

"Inevitably the question arises, what would happen if Mary and Joseph were to knock at my door. Would there be room for them?" the 85-year-old said.

"Do we not actually turn away God himself? There is no room for him. Not even in our feelings and desires is there any room for him," he said, blaming modern society's obsession with speed and personal ambition.

"The faster we can move, the more efficient our time-saving appliances become, the less time we have. And God? The question of God never seems urgent. Our time is already completely full," the German-born Benedict said.

"We want ourselves. We want what we can seize hold of, we want happiness that is within our reach, we want our plans and purposes to succeed.

"We are so 'full' of ourselves that there is no room left for God. And that means there is no room for others either, for children, for the poor, for the stranger," he added, calling for people to also rethink their attitudes towards "the homeless, towards refugees and migrants."

Benedict called for peace in the town of Christ's birth, Bethlehem, "and all those places where the Lord lived, ministered and suffered".

"Let us pray at this time for the people who live and suffer there today. Let us pray that there may be peace in that land," he said.

"Let us pray that Israelis and Palestinians may be able to live their lives in the peace of the one God and in freedom," he added.

The pontiff prayed for Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and neighbouring countries, "that there may be peace there, 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".

jonas.mbedzi 2012/12/25 07:34:11 AM
Stephen AndKathy Whiteley 2012/12/25 07:43:26 AM
I like this man.
MrCyanide 2012/12/25 07:53:33 AM
Your gods are dead, in it's place you worship a hollow idea, a collection of concepts long dead in it's contexts, if there was a god he/ she/it will have long forsaken this place. and if you want to have a list of abuses done in the name of a god or "divine insperation" look at history... and don't be blind to it or cherry pick give it a good hard look. Your religions have long since been corrupted from what they were the pope is a fine example of this with his status and power, where the abuse of children is rife as the abuse of honest minds. "never will a man so cheerfuly kill another when it is done in the name of god"
Sidney Meyer 2012/12/25 07:59:48 AM
Religion was already intollerant in the time of Abraham etc when "GOD" regularly told the Israelites to attack their neighbours. It has never stopped. Xtianity came with all kinds of hypocritical piety but the bloodletting in the name of god has never stopped. A monotheistic religion, as Popy himself admitted, by its nature has to kill the unbelievers who run after false gods. Xtianity did not improve mans life, as the middle ages, when they had total power, has shown. Only to the extent that regligion was forced to loosen its hold on people, did human rights etc improve. Room at the in for the God of Xtianity? No way. Sidney Meyer. Merry Xmas
Hannes Cloete 2012/12/25 08:02:38 AM
What a disgusting excuse for a human being.
Hardy Esterhuizen 2012/12/25 08:03:02 AM
What hypocrisy from a homophobic bigot... enough said.
Georg Hendrik Laing 2012/12/25 08:16:43 AM
What a beautiful Christmas message. Merry Christmas everyone! God bless!
Kyle Atcheson 2012/12/25 08:16:57 AM
The opinion of a man who actively collaborates with and shelters pedophiles should not be taken with any reverence at all.
Dagga Magazine 2012/12/25 08:20:26 AM
Lol why denying santa clause no presents?
Leonard Olley 2012/12/25 08:39:38 AM
"yet it is not true that the denial if God would lead to peace.." Well the non denial of God and religion is certainly not the path to peace. If God is all powerfull and a God of love, humanity cannot then be his proudest moment. Who invented sin this thing that we are born into and suffer in his name????????????????