In his Christmas message, Pope Francis appealed to say “no” to war, “to all war, to the very logic of war.” Referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he “begged for an end to military operations.” He also asked for the release of the hostages and “remedying the desperate humanitarian situation” in the Gaza Strip.
Addressing 70,000 believers from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday noon, the Pope said that “the eyes and hearts of Christians around the world are turned to Bethlehem, where suffering and silence reign in these days.”
Francis pointed out that saying “yes” to Jesus – the Prince of Peace – “means saying ‘no’ to war, to all war, to the very logic of war, to a journey without a destination, to failure without winners, to madness without excuses.”
– But to say “no” to war, you have to say “no” to weapons. If a man whose heart is unstable and wounded finds the instruments of death in his hands, sooner or later he will use them, Francis said.
Question about arms trade
The Pope asked during his message. – How can we talk about peace if the production, sale and trade of weapons increases?
– Today, as in the times of Herod, evil intrigues that oppose God’s light move in the shadow of hypocrisy and secrecy: how many massacres of armed men take place in deafening silence, without the knowledge of many! People who do not want weapons but bread, who work hard to survive and call for peace, do not realize how much public money is spent on armaments, the pope said.
– And yet – he added – they should know about it! Let it be talked about, let it be written about, so that the interests and profits that pull the strings of wars are known.
Francis recalled the words of the prophet Isaiah about the day when “nation will not lift up sword against nation”, people “will no longer train for war”, but “they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks”.
– With God’s help, let us strive to bring this day closer – Francis appealed. – Let him draw near in Israel and Palestine, where war is shaking the lives of their inhabitants, he added.
Pope: brothers and sisters, let us pray for peace in Palestine and Israel
– (War – ed.) I embrace them all, especially the Christian communities of Gaza and the entire Holy Land. I hold in my heart sadness for the victims of the heinous attack of October 7, and I renew my urgent appeal for the release of those who are still held hostage. I am begging you to end the military operations, with their horrific consequences in the form of innocent civilian casualties, and to remedy the desperate humanitarian situation by opening the doors to arriving aid, the pope said.
– Let there be no further incitement of violence and hatred, but let a solution to the Palestinian issue be initiated through sincere and persistent dialogue between the parties, supported by strong political will and the support of the international community – he urged.
– Brothers and sisters, let us pray for peace in Palestine and Israel – asked the pope. He recalled: “How many massacres of innocents there are in the world: in the womb of the mother, on the paths of people desperate in search of hope, in the lives of many children whose childhood was ruined by the war.”
– They – he added – are the little Jesuses of today.
Pope: From the manger, the Child asks us to be the voice of the voiceless
– Staring at Baby Jesus, I am begging for peace Ukraine. Let us renew our spiritual and human closeness to her tormented nation, so that with the support of each of us they can feel the concreteness of God’s love, he said.
He appealed for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Francis encouraged us not to forget about the conflicts in Africa, including in Sudan and South Sudan, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
– May the day draw near when brotherly bonds on the Korean Peninsula will be strengthened, opening paths of dialogue and reconciliation that could create conditions for lasting peace, he added.
He also called on the political authorities and all people of good will on the American continent to find appropriate solutions to “overcome social and political disputes; to fight against forms of poverty that degrade the dignity of persons, to eliminate inequalities and to face the painful phenomenon of migration.”
– From the manger, the Child asks us to be the voice of the voiceless: the voice of the innocent who are dying for lack of water and bread; the voice of those who cannot find a job or have lost it; the voice of those who are forced to flee their homeland in search of a better future, risking their lives on exhausting journeys and remaining at the mercy of unscrupulous human traffickers, the pope said.
He encouraged everyone to convert their hearts to say “no” to war and “yes” to peace.
At the end, Francis gave his blessing Urbi et Orbi, or the city and the world.
Main photo source: VATICAN MEDIA/PAP/EPA