VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI on Friday called for respect of all people without discrimination and the protection of children from war and violence as he celebrated the start of the new year.
Jan. 1 is also the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Peace, and the pontiff issued an appeal to all armed groups to "stop, reflect and abandon the way of violence," even if it seems impossible.
"You will feel in your hearts the joy of peace, which you have perhaps long forgotten," Benedict said during the Angelus prayer.
He said peace begins by recognizing that men are brothers, not rivals or enemies.
"Peace begins with a look of respect that recognizes in another man's face a person, regardless of the color of his skin, nationality, language or religion," he said during a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica earlier in the day.
The value of respect for all should be taught from an early age, Benedict said. Noting that classes containing children of different backgrounds are common, he said that "their faces are a prophecy of the kind of humanity we are called upon to create: a family of families and peoples."