Pope's Christmas message offers hope in
world hit by terrorism, war
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[December 26, 2016]
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis on
Sunday offered a Christmas hope for peace in a world lacerated by war
and terrorism, urging people to remember migrants, refugees and those
hit by economic instability caused by "idolatry of money".
Francis, marking the fourth Christmas season since his election in 2013,
also urged Palestinians and Israelis, facing renewed tension after a
U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements on occupied land, to have
the courage to put aside hate and revenge and "write a new page of
His traditional "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message was
linked by a common thread of war, violence and suffering at a time that
should be defined by harmony and peace symbolized by the infant Jesus.
"Peace to those who have lost a person dear to them as a result of
brutal acts of terrorism, which have sown fear and death into the hearts
of so many countries and cities," he told some 40,000 people gathered in
St. Peter's Square.
Security was heightened for the Christmas weekend in Italy and at the
Vatican after Italian police killed the man believed to be responsible
for the Berlin market truck attack while other European cities kept
forces on high alert.
"Today this message (of peace) 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," he said, speaking in
Italian from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.
He called for peace in Syria, urging immediate assistance to the
exhausted population of the city of Aleppo, which Syrian government
forces recaptured last week after four years of devastating fighting
"It is time for weapons to be still forever (in Syria), and the
international community to actively seek a negotiated solution, so that
civil co-existence can be restored in the country," he said.
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Pope Francis waves after delivering his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city
and the world) message from the balcony overlooking St. Peter's
Square at the Vatican December 25, 2016. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Francis, the first Latin American pope, also said Christmas should
inspire everyone to help the less fortunate, including migrants,
refugees and those swept up by social and economic upheavals.
"Peace to the peoples who suffer because of the economic ambitions
of the few, because of the sheer greed and the idolatry of money,
which leads to slavery," he said.
At his Christmas eve Mass on Saturday, Francis said the feast had
been "taken hostage" by dazzling materialism that puts God in the
On Sunday, he also called for an end to "fundamentalist terrorism"
in Nigeria, a reference to Boko Haram, which has killed 15,000
people and displaced more than two million during a seven-year
insurgency to create an Islamic state..
Francis further appealed for an end to tensions between the
government and opposition in Venezuela, for harmony in Colombia,
which recently ended a civil war with FARC guerrillas, and an end to
strife on the Korean peninsula and in Myanmar.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by Mark Heinrich)
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