Middle East

Pope Francis calls for peace in the Middle East

Before giving the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing, Pope Francis once again urged an end to wars in the world in his Christmas message. In the Middle East, dialogue must bring a lasting solution.

The sky was cloudy as Pope Francis entered the central loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica. Because of his severe knee problem, this time he gave his speech sitting down.

Right at the beginning, Francis mentioned Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. The eyes and hearts of Christians all over the world are focused on Bethlehem. Where there was pain and silence, the Savior was born, Christ the Lord. With urgent words, Francis appealed for peace in Israel and Palestine, where the war is shaking the lives of these peoples.

He recalled the attack by the terrorist organization Hamas and the massive counterattacks by Israel:

My heart mourns for the victims of the despicable attack of October 7th and I reiterate my urgent appeal for the release of those still held hostage. I beg that the military operations, with their horrific consequences of innocent civilian casualties, be stopped and that something be done about the desperate humanitarian situation by allowing aid to arrive.

No alternative to peace

We should not continue to foment violence and hatred, but rather lead the Palestinian question to a solution, said the Pope: “Through a sincere and persistent dialogue between the parties, which is supported by a strong political will and by the support of the international community .”

Throughout his speech, the church leader made it clear that there was no alternative to peace. With the birth of the baby Jesus, the Prince of Peace came. A “yes” to him means a “no” to war – any war. On the logic of war itself, which is a journey without a destination, a defeat without a winner and madness and for which there is no excuse.

Strong appeal against the arms industry

The “no” to war includes the “no” to weapons, said the Pope. He strongly condemned the production, sale and trade of weapons:

The people who don’t want weapons but bread, who struggle to make ends meet and ask for peace, don’t know how much public money is spent on armaments. But they should know. We should talk about it, we should write about it, so that the interests and profits that are the masterminds of wars become known.

Make the “voice of the innocent” heard

The 87-year-old pontiff also recalled the suffering of people in many other regions of the world. He spoke of the plagued Syria, of Yemen, of the conflicts in the Sahel, in Sudan, in Cameroon. With regard to Ukraine, Francis said, he prayed for peace and once again expressed spiritual and human closeness to the tormented people.

In his Christmas message, the Pope called for people not to forget those who have no voice. Such as those who are starving or on the run: “The voice of the innocent who have died for lack of water and bread. The voice of those who cannot find work or have lost it. The voice of those who are forced , fleeing their homeland in search of a better future, risking their lives on grueling journeys and being at the mercy of unscrupulous human traffickers.”

At the same time, the Pope made it clear that the message of Jesus’ birth was a sign of hope. The light of God has triumphed, one can rejoice in grace. After his address, he gave the Catholic Church’s highest blessing, “Urbi et Orbi”, as usual in Latin.

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