Pope convinced ofpeace in 2013

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI said yesterday he is convinced that peace will prevail in 2013, despite the inequality, terrorism and "unregulated financial capitalism" that afflict the world today.

Benedict celebrated a New Year's Day Mass in St. Peter's Basilica to mark the church's world day of peace. His target audience was in the front pews: diplomats accredited to the Holy See who next week will attend the pope's annual address about the plight of the world's poor and its war-torn regions.

In his homily, Benedict said that despite today's terrorism, criminality and the inequality between rich and poor, he is convinced the "numerous works of peace, of which the world is rich, are testimony to the innate vocation of humanity to peace." He cited "unregulated financial capitalism" as evidence of an "egotistical and individualistic mentality" that is rife in the world.

Later, Benedict appeared at his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square to wish the crowds below a happy new year.

Nearby, a man scaled the scaffolding along the colonnade surrounding the square and draped a banner calling on Benedict to "Stop Terrorism."

The man identified himself on the banner as Julian Jungarean, a Romanian who has previously scaled the colonnade around the piazza.

Witnesses say uniformed officers were speaking with him from the ground and a nearby roof. After a few hours of negotiations, he came down and was escorted away.

The protest didn't appear to cause the pope any disturbance.

Benedict had celebrated New Year's Eve with a vespers service in St. Peter's to give thanks for 2012 and look ahead to 2013. He appeared tired during the service and used a cane afterward -- an indication that the busy Christmas season may be taking a toll on the 85-year-old Benedict.

This past year was full of highs and lows for the pope, including a successful trip to Mexico and Cuba but also the betrayal of his butler, convicted in October of stealing Benedict's personal papers and leaking them to a journalist.

Paolo Gabriele was convicted of aggravated theft by a Vatican tribunal and sentenced to 18 months in prison. He received a pre-Christmas papal pardon and is expected to soon leave his Vatican City apartment for a new home and job elsewhere.

-- AP

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