In Christmas Day message, pope says many in Israel ‘awaiting a time of peace’

Pope Francis offers a Christmas message of hope Wednesday against darkness that cloaks conflicts and relationships in large parts of the world, from Israel and the Middle East to the Americas to Africa.

The pope tells tens of thousands of tourists, pilgrims, and Romans gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the annual Christmas Day message that “the light of Christ is greater” than the darkness “in human hearts” and “in economic, geopolitical and ecological conflicts.”

Pope Francis looks at the crowd after he delivered the Urbi et Orbi (Latin for ‘to the city and to the world’ ) Christmas Day blessing from the main balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, December 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

The traditional “Urbi et Orbi’’ (“to the city and to the world’’) Christmas message has become an occasion for popes to address suffering in the world and press for solutions. Francis was flanked by Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the papal council for migrants, and Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the pope’s official almsgiver.

The pope cites the Syrian people “who still see no end to the hostilities that have rent their country over the last decade,” as well as Israel, where Jesus “was born as the savior of mankind and where so many people — struggling but not discouraged — still await a time of peace, security, and prosperity.”

Francis also calls for an easing of the crisis in Lebanon, social tensions in Iraq and “a grave humanitarian crisis” in Yemen.

— AP

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