CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 18 May 2019

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To the city of Rome and the world

VATICAN (SE): “Let us open our hearts to receive the grace of this day, which is Christ himself,” Pope Francis said in the traditional Urbi et Orbi (To the City and the World) papal Christmas blessing, delivered from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome at midday on Christmas Day.

He called it a radiant day of mercy, in which God has revealed his great tenderness to the entire world, a day of peace, which generates the light that dispels the darkness of fear and anxiety.

In calling on every man, woman and child to repent for their wrong-doing, Pope Francis called Christmas an event which must be renewed in every family, parish and community the world over, to recognise that the sign of God-made-man, who allowed his tears to flow to wash away the stains from our hearts, is now among us.

He said, “This grace of God can convert hearts and offer humankind a way out of humanly insoluble situations. 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 war.”

He then turned to what he considers major trouble spots in the world, looking first to the long term standoff between Palestine and Israel, saying, “May Israelis and Palestinians resume direct dialogue and 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 then looked towards the conflict in the Middle East, praying that the agreement reached at the United Nations may succeed in halting the armed clash in Syria and remedy the extremely grave situation of the suffering of its 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.

He added that the attention of the entire international community must be directed towards ending the atrocities in Iraq, Libya, the Yemen and sub-Saharan Africa, where victims are numerous, causing immense suffering and destroying the precious cultural heritage of entire peoples.

He lamented the ferocious terrorism being wreaked in many parts of the world, isolating massacres in Egyptian airspace with the explosion of the Russian jet, as well as attacks in Beirut, Paris, Bamako and Tunis.

He also drew attention to peoples the world over who are suffering from religious persecution for their faith, asking that the child Jesus, whose birth was being celebrated on that day, may grant them great consolation.

He then listed the partners of the peace concordat; the Dominican Republic of the Congo, Burundi and South Sudan, praying that dialogue may lead to a common commitment, spirit of reconciliation and mutual understanding.

He prayed for peace in the Ukraine, as well as for the people of Colombia in their work for peace.

He gave special mention to people fleeing extreme poverty and situations of violence and war, asking for a special blessing to be granted to those countries with the generosity to open their arms and hearts to them in welcome, and assist them in rebuilding their lives.

“On this festival day, may the Lord bring renewed hope to all those who lack employment; may he sustain the commitment of those with public responsibilities in political and economic life, that they may work to pursue the common good and to protect the dignity of every human life,” Pope Francis prayed.

He reiterated, “Where God is born, mercy flourishes,” calling on the whole world to discover the tender love of the heavenly Father that exists in everyone, and enable everyone, especially those in prison, to experience this merciful love that overcomes all evil.

He concluded with a plea to listen to the child who whispers to us, and in the words of the psalm, he greeted every person in the city of Rome and the world,  saying, “Peace be within you.”

 

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