Pope Francis delivered his Urbi et Orbi address on Christmas Day to an estimated 150,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, leading them in prayer for those suffering in conflicts and disasters around the world.
Beginning the traditional address, the Holy Father to take up “the song of the angels” in praising God for the birth of Jesus.
“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.
Referring to song of praise given by the angels to the shepherds of Bethlehem, the Pope expressed his hope that in giving glory to God, all may come to know the true face of God that brings peace.
The Holy Father stressed that true peace can not be achieved by a balance of opposing forces or facade that conceals divisions, but rather a daily commitment.
“Looking at the Child in the manger, Child of peace, our thoughts turn to those children who are the most vulnerable victims of wars, but we think too of the elderly, to battered women, to the sick… Wars shatter and hurt so many lives!,” he exclaimed.
“Too many lives have been shattered in recent times by the conflict in Syria, fueling 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. We have seen how powerful prayer is! And I am happy today too, that the followers of different religious confessions are joining us in our prayer for peace in Syria. Let us never lose the courage of prayer! The courage to say: Lord, grant your peace to Syria and to the whole world. And I also invite non-believers to desire peace with that yearning that makes the heart grow: all united, either by prayer or by desire. But all of us, for peace.”
The Holy Father continued his appeal for peace in the Central African Republic, Nigeria and in particular South Sudan, where he noted that tensions threatened “peaceful coexistence in that young state.”
Regarding the Middle East, the Holy Father asked the Lord to “bless the land where you chose to come into the world.” The Pope prayed for a favorable outcome to the ongoing peace talks between Israel and Palestine as well as, for peace in Iraq, which is “struck by frequent acts of violence.”
The Holy Father also brought attention to the plight of immigrants and those persecuted by the faith. “Lord of life, protect all who are persecuted for your name. Grant hope and consolation to the displaced and refugees, especially in the Horn of Africa and in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” he said.
“Grant that migrants in search of a dignified life may find acceptance and assistance. May tragedies like those we have witnessed this year, with so many deaths at Lampedusa, never occur again!”
Prayer for Victims of Trafficking and Natural Disaster
Pope Francis prayed for those robbed of their childhood through war and human trafficking. To those engaged in human trafficking, the Holy Father asked the Christ Child to “touch the hearts of all those engaged in human trafficking, that they may realize the gravity of this crime against humanity.”
“Lord of heaven and earth, look upon our planet, frequently exploited by human greed and rapacity. Help and protect all the victims of natural disasters, especially the beloved people of the Philippines, gravely affected by the recent typhoon,” he said.
Before imparting his blessing “to the city and to the world”, Pope Francis prayed that God would touch the hearts of all in order to be peacemakers “each day, in our life, in our families, in our cities and nations, and in the whole world.” (J.A.E.)