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 CNS Story:

POPE-AUDIENCE Dec-21-2005 (470 words) With photos. xxxi

Christmas lights remind that Christ is light of world, says pope

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Admiring the Christmas lights as they walk down city streets, Christians should remember that Christ is the light of the world, Pope Benedict XVI said.

As temperatures in St. Peter's Square hovered just above freezing and a light rain fell intermittently, Pope Benedict arrived for his Dec. 21 general audience wearing a "camauro," a red velvet cap trimmed with ermine.

One British journalist said he thought the pope wore the cap in anticipation of Christmas, but the "camauro" is another piece of the traditional papal wardrobe Pope Benedict has revived. He wore the matching red velvet, ermine-trimmed cape -- called a mozzetta -- during his Dec. 8 visit to the center of Rome for the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Pope John XXIII was the last pope to wear a "camauro" in public. He was buried in a glass casket in St. Peter's Basilica wearing one.

Holding the audience talk on the Northern Hemisphere's shortest day of the year, Pope Benedict said the Christmas use of light helps people understand the holiday's true meaning.

The newly lengthening days, candles and Christmas lights everywhere "help us understand better the theme of the light that advances over the darkness," he said.

"It is a symbol evoking a reality that touches the depths of the person ... the light of goodness that vanquishes evil, of love that overcomes hatred, of life that defeats death," Pope Benedict said.

He said that in the liturgies immediately preceding Christmas "the savior awaited by the nations is greeted as the 'rising sun,' the star that shows the way and guides people, wandering amid the darkness and dangers of the world, toward the salvation promised by God and realized in Jesus Christ."

The pope asked Christians to keep their Christmas traditions alive, explaining them to their children and resisting the attempts of a consumer society to strip all religious symbols from the celebration of the feast of Christ's birth.

"In particular, in seeing city streets and squares decorated with shining lights, let us remember that these lights are a reminder of another light, which is invisible to the eyes but not to the heart," he said.

"While we admire them, while we light candles in church or illuminate a Nativity scene or Christmas tree in our homes, let us open our hearts to the true spiritual light offered to all people of good will," the pope said.

Pope Benedict prayed that Jesus, the "sun of light that never sets, would give us the strength to follow always the path of truth, justice and love."

Antonio Fazio, who resigned Dec. 19 as governor of Italy's central bank amid accusations of insider trading, was among those who personally greeted the pope at the end of the audience.

END


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