26, December 2018
In his annual Christmas message, Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, has urged people to overcome their differences and find political solutions to conflicts, especially those gripping the Middle East region.
Addressing a 50,000-strong crowd at Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City on Tuesday, the pope called for a spirit of “fraternity” to be rekindled in conflict zones such as Syria, Yemen and Palestine.
“My wish for a happy Christmas is a wish for fraternity,” among individuals of “every nation and culture” as well as among people “with different ideas, yet capable of respecting and listening to one another,” the 82-year-old pontiff said.
He also stressed that differences should not be seen as a “detriment or a danger” but rather “a source of richness.”
“May the international community work decisively for a political solution that can put aside divisions and partisan interests, so that the Syrian people, especially all those who were forced to leave their own lands and seek refuge elsewhere, can return to live in peace in their own country,” the pope said.
The pontiff also used the occasion as an opportunity to address the ongoing war and the humanitarian disaster in Yemen.
“My thoughts turn to Yemen, in the hope that the truce brokered by the international community may finally bring relief to all those children and people exhausted by war and famine,” he added.
Pope Francis also expressed hopes for a resumption of dialog between Israelis and Palestinians to “put an end to a conflict that for over 70 years has rent the land chosen by the Lord to show his face of love.”
He further affirmed the Palestinian side’s readiness to hold new discussions with the Tel Aviv regime on the basis of the international law and relevant United Nations General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.
Referring to other hotspots across the globe, Pope Francis further called for rapprochement on the Korean Peninsula, peace in Ukraine, “social harmony” in Venezuela, reconciliation in Nicaragua and an end to conflict in Africa, “where millions of people are refugees, or displaced or in need of humanitarian assistance and food security.”