On Christmas Day, Pope Francis addressed tens of thousands of Roman Catholics on Christmas Day at the Vatican, and delivered the traditional Urbi et Orbi message and blessings from the central balcony of the Vatican basilica.
Pope Francis spoke of “war storms” and warned against a possible “decline of man, the social fabric and the environment”. He therefore called on people to be more compassionate. They must work to “make our world more humane and worthy of the children of today and tomorrow.”
Pope Francis urged for an amicable solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two states within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders,” said the 81-year-old Monday at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.
US President Donald Trump had recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at the beginning of December. The move sparked international criticism and led to further unrest. The UN General Assembly voted by a large majority against such recognition in a non-binding resolution.
Francis emphasized the efforts of those “who have the good will in the international community to assist that troubled country, to find justice and security despite the grave obstacles to long-awaited harmony”.
The 81-year-old also focused on the suffering of girls and boys in wars and conflicts such as in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan, Venezuela and the Ukraine. The head of the Catholic Church specifically called for welcoming migrant children. “Our hearts may not be shut up, as the houses of Bethlehem were.”
“The winds of war are blowing in our world and an outdated model of development continues to produce human, societal and environmental decline,” he said.
Francis appealed to the conflicting parties to respect the dignity of every Syrian and to rebuild society regardless of ethnic and religious affiliations.
In his Christmas message, the Pope recalled the fate of children in Iraq, wounded and divided by the hostilities of the past 15 years. He also complained about the consequences of the war in Yemen, which was a “largely forgotten conflict with profound humanitarian consequences for the population”.
In the face of mounting tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program, the Pope called for overcoming the contrasts on the Korean peninsula.
More mutual trust was in the interest of the entire world, he warned, given the possible consequences of an escalation between North Korea and the United States.
“As warlike storms sweep the world today, and an outdated developmental pattern continues to lead to the decline of mankind, the social fabric and the environment, Christmas calls us back to the sign of the child,” Francis pointed out.
With regard to Africa, the Pope referred to the conflicts in South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and Nigeria. In addition, he recalled his recent trip to Asia and again demanded protection for minorities such as the Rohingya expelled from Myanmar.