In his Christmas message, Pope Francis prayed for peace in Syria, Libya and other war-torn regions of the world and called on the international community to crackdown on “brutal terrorism” perpetrated by ISIS and other terrorists.
The Urbi et Orbi message, which means ‘to the city and the world’, was delivered from the central loggia of St Peter’s Basilica to the faithful gathered in the square below.
“We pray to the Lord that the agreement reached in the United Nations may succeed in halting as quickly as possible the clash of arms in Syria and in remedying the extremely grave humanitarian situation of its suffering people. It is likewise urgent that the agreement on Libya be supported by all, so as to overcome the grave divisions and violence afflicting the country,” he said.
“May the attention of the international community be unanimously directed to ending the atrocities which in those countries, as well as in Iraq, Libya, Yemen and sub-Saharan Africa, even now reap numerous victims, cause immense suffering and do not even spare the historical and cultural patrimony of entire peoples.
“My thoughts also turn to those affected by brutal acts of terrorism, particularly the recent massacres which took place in Egyptian airspace, in Beirut, Paris, Bamako and Tunis.”
He added: “To our brothers and sisters who in many parts of the world are being persecuted for their faith, may the Child Jesus grant consolation and strength.”
Francis called for “peace and concord among the peoples of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and South Sudan” and also expressed his “closeness” to victims of human trafficking and migrants refugees forced to flee conflicts in their home countries.
“May our closeness today be felt by those who are most vulnerable, especially child soldiers, women who suffer violence, and the victims of human trafficking and the drug trade,” he said.
“Nor may our encouragement be lacking to all those fleeing extreme poverty or war, travelling all too often in inhumane conditions and not infrequently at the risk of their lives. May God repay all those, both individuals and states, who generously work to provide assistance and welcome to the numerous migrants and refugees, helping them to build a dignified future for themselves and for their dear ones, and to be integrated in the societies which receive them.”
The Pope also called on Israel and Palestine to “resume direct dialogue” in order to “reach an agreement which will enable the two peoples to live together in harmony, ending a conflict which has long set them at odds, with grave repercussions for the entire region.”
He added: “Where God is born, hope is born. Where God is born, peace is born. And where peace is born, there is no longer room for hatred and for war. Yet precisely where the incarnate Son of God came into the world, tensions and violence persist, and peace remains a gift to be implored and built.”