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Pope Delivers Christmas Message After Minor Attack


Pope Benedict XVI delivers the Urbi et Orbi Christmas address on December 25.

Pope Benedict XVI delivers the Urbi et Orbi Christmas address on December 25.

Pope Benedict has delivered his traditional Christmas message “Urbi et Orbi” (“To the City and the World”) in the Vatican today, hours after he was knocked to the floor by a woman.

The 82-year-old Pontiff appeared undaunted by the incident as he delivered his twice-yearly message from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica in front of some 10,000 pilgrims.

Benedict called on his followers to wake up and share their life experiences with others. “To wake up means to leave that private world of one's own and to enter the common reality, the truth that alone can unite all people,” he said.

And he urged those in conflict zones to show respect for one another. Conflicts and “lack of reconciliation in the world stem from the fact that we are locked into our own interests and opinions, into our little private world,” Benedict said. “Selfishness, both individual and collective, makes us prisoners of our interests and our desires that stand against the truth and separate us from one another.”

Benedict delivered the Christmas address the day after a woman jumped the security fence and dragged him to the ground as he was walking towards the altar of the St. Basilica to celebrate Christmas Eve mass.

The woman was identified as 25-year-old Susanna Maiolo, an Italian-Swiss dual national.

According to the Vatican, Maiolo had tried to jump the fence to reach the Pope during the 2008 Christmas Mass, too.

The Vatican said today the “psychologically unstable” woman has been taken to a medical facility for “necessary treatment.”

Security was heightened in the Vatican after the incident.

Referring to a recent attack on the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, an Italian pilgrim, Pippo Stoppani, said the Pope was not properly protected.

“It was very ugly. After what has happened just a few days ago to Berlusconi all we needed was this to happen to the Pope,” SToppani said. “I think the Pope was not well protected. [The security guards] need to be much more careful, especially these days.”

In 2007, a German man jumped over the security fence during a general audience and tried to reach Pope’s vehicle.

In 1981, a Turkish national, Mehmet Ali Agca, shot and seriously wounded Pope John Paul II, who later pardoned his attacker.

Compiled from agency reports.
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