Image: Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing during the Angelus noon prayer
Andrew Medichini  /  AP
Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing during the Angelus noon prayer he celebrated from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's square at the Vatican on Sunday. He denounced Christmas attacks on the faithful in the Philippines and Nigeria and called for the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
updated 12/26/2010 12:43:12 PM ET 2010-12-26T17:43:12

Lasagna, veal and cake were on the menu Sunday as Pope Benedict XVI invited about 250 poor people to join him for a post-Christmas lunch and denounced as "absurd" new attacks on the faithful around the globe.

Also joining the pope and his guests were 250 nuns, seminarians and priests of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity order, which runs soup kitchens around Rome.

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Last year, Benedict traveled to a Rome soup kitchen to join the poor for lunch after Christmas. This year he wanted to invite them to his home and to pay homage to Mother Teresa, whose birth centenary is being celebrated this year.

During the lunch, held inside the Vatican's main audience hall, Benedict told his guests about the virtues of Mother Teresa, who dedicated her life to serving the sick and poor.

"To those who ask why Mother Teresa was famous, the answer is easy: she lived her life in a humble and hidden way, for the love of God and in love with God," Benedict said.

The feast included lasagna with homemade Bolognese sauce, veal chunks with roasted potatoes, traditional yellow Christmas cake with chocolate bits and Chantilly cream, and coffee.

Before the meal, Benedict delivered his traditional Sunday blessing from his studio window, denouncing Christmas Day attacks on the faithful in the Philippines and Nigeria and a suicide bombing in Pakistan that killed 45 people at an aid center.

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"Once again, the earth is stained by blood," he lamented.

A bomb exploded during Christmas Mass at a police camp chapel in the southern Philippines, wounding a priest and 10 churchgoers. Also Saturday, six people died in attacks by Muslim sect members on two churches in northern Nigeria.

"I express my heartfelt condolences to the victims of this absurd violence and once again repeat my appeal to abandon ways of hatred and find peaceful solutions to conflicts" so that people can live in peace and security, he said.

Benedict noted that the Sunday after Christmas traditionally celebrates the family, taking the birth of Jesus as its cue. Underlining his rejection of gay marriage and abortion, the pope stressed that every child deserves a mother and a father who will love them and welcome them as a gift.

"This is what gives children security and, as they grow, lets them discover the sense of life," he said.

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Video: Pope takes new position on condoms

  1. Transcript of: Pope takes new position on condoms

    NATALIE MORALES, anchor: The pope is addressing difficult issues facing the Catholic Church , including condom use in a book that comes out tomorrow. NBC 's Kerry Sanders already has a copy and he joins us now from Miami . Kerry , good morning.

    KERRY SANDERS reporting: Well, good morning, Natalie . Here is the book, " Light of the World ," by the Pope Benedict XVI , and it's about 200 pages long, but it's near the end where he talks about condom use that will draw the most attention among America 's 68 million Catholics . The book is simply questions and answers, Pope Benedict XVI sat with journalist Peter Seewald in what the Vatican says was an open forum to ask any questions, and it's there on page 118, a question about AIDS in Africa , should condoms be used to prevent the spread of that disease? In one of the longest answers in the book, the pope says in part, "There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom. The church of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality." Was that the pope endorsing the use of condoms?

    Father JOSEPH FESSIO: No, it's not. But it sounds dangerously close, doesn't it?

    SANDERS: Father Joseph Fessio is the publisher of the pope's new book. He's also a longtime friend. When you hear that already the word is out that the pope is endorsing the use of condoms in limited situations.

    Father FESSIO: Right. He's saying it's immoral, but he's saying someone could do it in a particular case having an intention of causing less harm, and that could be a first little step towards a more moral life. But that does not say, 'OK, go ahead use condoms, it's all right.'

    SANDERS: In the book, the pope answers every question he was asked, including some very direct difficult questions about the sex abuse scandal in the


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