Pope starts Rome holiday season, prays for jobless

ROME (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI is praying for those who lost jobs or are struggling to pay bills as Rome's holiday season began with a traditional appearance by the pontiff near the Spanish Steps.

Thousands of Romans and tourists crowded into the square near Rome's posh shopping streets to hear Benedict pray Monday afternoon near a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Rome's holiday season begins every Dec. 8, when the pontiff arrives in his popemobile in the square at the foot of the Spanish Steps.

Benedict said he was asking the Virgin Mary to help families struggling to make ends meet and those who can't find work or who have just lost their jobs. He said he hoped those suffering would feel the "warmth of God's love."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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