25 December 2019, The Tablet

Pope Francis: May Christ be the light!

'May Christ be light for the many children who suffer from war and conflict in the Middle East and various countries of the world.'

Pope Francis: May Christ be the light!

Pope Francis holds up the consecrated host as he celebrates Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican
Massimo Valicchia/NurPhoto/PA Images

Pope Francis has called for an end to the conflict in Syria. He has also issued a special message, along with the Archbishop of Canterbury and former moderator of the Church of Scotland, for the people and political leaders of war-torn South Sudan. 

In his traditional Urbi et Orbi message to crowds of Christmas pilgrims at St Peter's, Rome, Pope Francis returned to some of the themes closest to his heart, in particular the plight of refugees and of those caught up in conflict in the Middle East.

He said: "Yes, there is darkness in human hearts, but the greater the light of Christ. There is darkness in personal, family, social relationships, but the greater the light of Christ. There is darkness in economic, geopolitical and ecological conflicts, but the greater the light of Christ.

"May Christ be light for the many children who suffer from war and conflict in the Middle East and in various countries of the world. May it be comfort for the beloved Syrian people who still do not see the end of the hostilities that have torn the country apart in this decade. 

"Shake the consciences of men of goodwill. Inspire today the rulers and the international community to find solutions that guarantee the safety and peaceful coexistence of the peoples of the Region and put an end to their unspeakable suffering. May it be support for the Lebanese people, so that they can emerge from the current crisis and rediscover their vocation to be a message of freedom and harmonious coexistence for all."

He prayed for Jesus to be the light for the "Holy Land where he was born", for the many waiting for days of peace, security and prosperity. "May it be consolation for Iraq, undergoing social tensions, and for Yemen, experienced by a serious humanitarian crisis."

He also referred to the entire American continent, where he said different nations are experiencing a season of social and political upheaval, and other conflicted nations around the world. 

"Refresh the dear Venezuelan people, long tried by political and social tensions and do not let them lack the help they need. Bless the efforts of those who are working to promote justice and reconciliation and strive to overcome the various crises and the many forms of poverty that offend the dignity of each person.

"Let the Redeemer of the world be light for dear Ukraine, which aspires to concrete solutions for lasting peace.

"May the Lord who was born be a light for the peoples of Africa, where social and political situations persist that often force people to emigrate, depriving them of a home and a family. May peace be for the population living in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, tormented by persistent conflicts. 

"May it be comfort to those who suffer from violence, natural disasters or health emergencies. May it be comfort to those who are persecuted because of their religious faith, especially the missionaries and the faithful kidnapped, and to those who fall victim to attacks by extremist groups, especially in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria."

And he reiterated his concerns about modern slavery and human trafficking, suffered by those who seek to emigrate in the hope of a safe life. "It is injustice that forces them to cross deserts and seas, transformed into cemeteries. It is injustice that forces them to suffer unspeakable abuse, slavery of all kinds and torture in inhuman detention camps. It is injustice that rejects them from places where they could have the hope of a dignified life and makes them find walls of indifference."

  Loading ...
Get Instant Access
Subscribe to The Tablet for just £7.99

Subscribe today to take advantage of our introductory offers and enjoy 30 days' access for just £7.99