Pope Francis on Tuesday called for peace in areas of conflict such as Syria or Yemen, and “brotherhood” between peoples, as millions of Christians around the world celebrated Christmas.
In his traditional Christmas message, Pope Francis called for “fraternity” among peoples, and to work for peace, urging concern for the plight of Syrian refugees and the populations that were victims of the war and the war. famine in Yemen.
The day before, an attack on a government complex once again plunged the capital of Afghanistan, killing at least 43 people.
“That the international community is working resolutely for a political solution that puts aside divisions and partisan interests, so that the Syrian people, especially those who have had to leave their land to seek refuge elsewhere, can return to live in peace in their country. “, said the pope before 50,000 faithful gathered St. Peter’s Square, before the blessing” Urbi et orbi “(” to the city and the world “).
“I think of Yemen, with the hope that the truce obtained through the mediation of the international community can finally relieve many children and people exhausted by war and famine,” said Pope Francis, who also launched a call for “religious freedom”, referring to minority Christians celebrating Christmas “in difficult, if not hostile, contexts”.
The pope did not fail to evoke the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, renewing a call for “dialogue”: that the Christmas party “allow the Israelis and Palestinians to resume the dialogue and begin a path of peace that puts end to a 70-year conflict.
François also spoke about the situation in Ukraine. “It is only through peace, respectful of the rights of every nation, that the country can recover from suffering and restore dignified living conditions for its citizens, I am close to the Christian communities of this region, and I pray so that they can forge bonds of brotherhood and friendship “.
– Beware of “tribalism” –
Christians pray at Midnight Mass at St. Catherine’s Church, Bethlehem, December 25, 2018
Pilgrims from around the world also gathered Monday in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus according to the Christian tradition, where this year came a rising number of visitors, after several years of decline in attendance due to the fallout of the conflict. Israel-Palestine.
A compact crowd attended the midnight mass celebrated in St. Catherine’s Church, adjoining the Basilica of the Nativity, built on the site where according to the Christian tradition Jesus was born.
In his homily, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, paid tribute to the Palestinian city, stating that the birth of Christ in Bethlehem was “a divine choice”.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, his prime minister and a representative of the King of Jordan attended Mass.
For her part, Queen Elizabeth II, in her serious Christmas message, called on the British, who are very divided on Brexit, to show “respect” to each other.
She also warned against “tribalism”: “Even the power of faith, which often inspires great generosity and self-sacrifice, can be a victim of tribalism,” she warned.
The day before, the Spanish king Felipe VI had defended him the “coexistence” of the Spaniards in his Christmas message, without however referring explicitly to Catalonia, where the situation is always tense more than one year after the vain attempt of secession.
– “A shame” –
“Coexistence – which is always fragile, let us not forget – is the greatest heritage we have, the Spaniards, the most precious work of our democracy and the greatest legacy that we can entrust to the younger generations” , did he declare.
In Indonesia, a few dozen worshipers congregated in a Pentecostal church near one of the worst affected areas of the tsunami following a volcanic eruption, praying for the victims of the disaster, which left more than 400 dead .
“This Christmas is different, we celebrate it in the midst of disaster,” said AFP Eliza, a faithful of the Pentecostal Rahmat Church, located in Carita, a small town in the Pandeglang area, in the west of island of Java.
For US President Donald Trump, the holidays have been marred by the partial closure of the government after the Democratic opposition refused to fund an anti-immigration wall on the Mexican border.
“What is happening in our country is a shame, but otherwise I wish everyone a very merry Christmas,” he told reporters after meeting with US troops by teleconference.
Tuesday, new tragedy of illegal immigration: an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy detained by US authorities died in a New Mexico hospital, the second child migrating to the authorities to die in December.
The previous day, in a completely different way, the president had caused a sensation by asking the telephone to a 7-year-old girl if she still believed in Santa Claus. He made this trip while he and his wife Melania and volunteers participated in the traditional US Army Santa Claus hunt, answering children’s phone calls.