Pope Francis made an impassioned plea for peace on Sunday in a world broken by conflict, terrorism and injustice.
Speaking to an estimated 40,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square and to the world during his traditional Christmas Day “Urbi et Orbi” address, the Pope wished Christmas peace for people scarred by wars and for those who have lost loved ones to terrorism.
Today, Pope Francis said, the Church experiences the wonder and the joy that derives from the birth of the Son of God, the Prince of Peace.
And in a heartfelt cry for peace in a world disfigured by violence, the Pope said Jesus’ message of hope goes out to the ends of the earth to reach all peoples, especially those scarred by war and harsh conflicts that seem stronger than the yearning for peace.
Francis forgot no one. He cited those suffering in Syria and recalled the “most awful recent battles” in Aleppo and pressed the international community to find a negotiated solution.
He mentioned the beloved Holy land and urged Israelis and Palestinians to “have the courage and determination to write a new page of history, where hate and revenge give way to the will to build together a future of mutual understanding and harmony”.
He remembered Iraq, Libya and Yemen – whose peoples, he said, suffer war and the brutality of terrorism – be able once again to find unity and concord.
He lamented that in Nigeria “fundamentalist terrorism exploits even children,” and decried conflicts and tensions in South Sudan, in DRC, in eastern Ukraine, Myanmar, the Korean peninsula, Colombia and Venezuela, where he called for dialogue and reconciliation..
Pope Francis also spoke of the victims of terrorism and prayed for peace for those who have lost a person dear to them, or who were wounded, as a result of brutal acts of terrorism, that have sown fear and death in the hearts of so many countries and cities”.
Peace – not merely the word, he said, but real and concrete peace – to our abandoned and excluded brothers and sisters, to those who suffer hunger and to all the victims of violence. Peace to exiles, migrants and refugees, to all those who are subject to human trafficking, to those who suffer because of the economic ambitions of a few, to those who endure the consequences of earthquakes or other natural catastrophes.
And the Pope concluded with a special wish for peace for children: on this special day on which God became a child- the Pope highlighted the suffering of those deprived of the joys of childhood because of hunger, wars or the selfishness of adults.
Only with peace, he said, is there the possibility of a more prosperous future for all.