Pope Francis, today in his traditional blessing Urbi et Orbi (for the city and the world), made a call for peace in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Venezuela, Ukraine and various African countries.


On Christmas Day, 83-year-old Pope urged the world to let Christmas light penetrate the “darkness of the human heart,” leading to religious persecution, social injustice, armed conflict, and fear of migrants.

The common thread in his speech to tens of thousands of people on St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City and millions of viewers and listeners around the world was that change begins in the hearts of individuals. “There is darkness in human hearts, but the light of Christ is even greater,” said Francis on the seventh Christmas of his pontificate.

Francis pointed to the persecution of Christians by militant groups in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, and asked God to comfort those who suffer for their faith. On December 1, at least fourteen people were shot in an attack on a church in eastern Burkina Faso, where an Islamic uprising fuels ethnic and religious tensions.

The pope, who is criticised by populist politicians for defending refugees and migrants, devoted part of his speech to their plight.

It is the injustice that makes them cross deserts and seas that become cemeteries. It is the injustice that forces them to endure ineffable forms of abuse, all sorts of slavery and torture in inhuman detention camps, “said Francis.

Although there are many significant problems in the world, people don’t have to look far to correct injustice, the Pope emphasised. They could modify their community as a beginning of healing for all “suffering members of our human family.”

The Urbi et Orbi is the highlight of the traditional Christmas celebration in Rome.

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