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Pope appeals for peace in 
the city and the world

VATICAN (SE): The promise of peace on earth and to all its people has proven to be an elusive dream Pope Francis says in his first Urbi et Orbi (The City and the World) for the feast of Christmas.

Delivered on Christmas Day, December 25, in St. Peter’s Square, Rome, the pope appealed to people of all faiths and none to work together to make this promise a reality.

“I ask everyone to share in this song: it is a song for every man or woman who keeps watch through the night, who hopes for a better world, who cares for others while humbly seeking to do his or her duty,” he said in the first Christmas message of his pontificate.

He called on people worldwide to give glory to God, saying that this is what the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ bids all people to do. He described giving glory to God as right and fitting, for he is good, faithful and merciful.

“Today I voice my hope that everyone will come to know the true face of God, the Father who has given us Jesus. My hope is that everyone will feel God’s closeness, live in his presence, love him and adore him,” Pope Francis said.

He criticised the Cold War era concept of peace saying, “True peace… is not a balance of opposing forces. It is not a lovely façade which conceals conflicts and divisions.

Instead, he described peace as something positive, a commitment, an art and a gift from the God who came to dwell amongst us to his people, a gift that arises from the birth of Jesus Christ.

He added that it is important to contemplate the child in the nativity scene, saying that it was a child, a baby, who came to bring us peace, and this child should naturally turn our thoughts to the children of the world—especially those in war zones, as they, along with the aged, are the most vulnerable of all people.

To this list he added battered women, the victims of domestic violence and all too often the victims of rape and other atrocities during times of war.

“Wars shatter and hurt so many lives!” he said.

“Too many lives have been shattered in recent times by the conflict in Syria, fuelling hatred and vengeance. Let us continue to ask the Lord to spare the beloved Syrian people further suffering, and to enable the parties in conflict to put an end to all violence and guarantee access to humanitarian aid,” he continued.

Pope Francis added that the world has witnessed the power of prayer in the bringing of people together peacefully and expressed his joy at seeing people of so many different confessions and faiths coming together to pray for peace.

“Let us never lose the courage of prayer!” he continued.

To his list of places in special need of prayer on this Christmas Day, he added the Central African Republic, which he described as often being forgotten and overlooked “But the Lord forgets no one,” he assured his audience.

He also called for social harmony in Southern Sudan, the world’s newest nation, where too many lives have already been lost and disrupted in the ongoing tension.

The suffering people of Nigeria, the Horn of Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, together with Iraq all received a special mention as being in need of prayer for peace.

He mentioned Israel and Palestine, asking for a lessening of tension in the peace talks.

Pope Francis put the spotlight on refugees, asking that warm hearts and open arms may welcome them, the victims of natural disasters, especially in The Philippines, and human trafficking, as well as children who are kidnapped or forced to become child soldiers.

 

He asked all people to pray that people can be peacemakers in their nations, cities and families.

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