Festive night, holy night around the globe
Thousands of pilgrims celebrated Christmas in Bethlehem, revered as the birthplace of Jesus Christ, with festivities on a scale unseen since the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian fighting in 2001. At midnight Mass, the top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land called on the faithful to pray for peace in the troubled region. “Its inhabitants are brothers who see each other as enemies,” the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal told worshippers. “This land will deserve to be called holy when she breathes freedom, justice, love, reconciliation, peace and security.” Live rock music mingled with traditional carols in Manger Square as thousands of pilgrims and Palestinians joined the festivities, providing some respite for a town living in the shadow of a huge Israeli-built wall.