Pope Francis calls for unity among different faiths in Christmas address
Pontiff urges world to find solution to wars in Syria and Yemen and conflict in Ukraine
Pope Francis leads his Angelus’ Prayer from the window of his office overlooking Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican on St Stephen’s Day. Photograph: EPA
Pope Francis has offered his Christmas wish for fraternity among people of different faiths, races or ideas. He urged the world to put aside “partisan interests” to find a political solution to wars in Syria and Yemen and conflicts in Ukraine and on the Korean peninsula.
Addressing tens of thousands of tourists, pilgrims and Romans in St Peter’s Square, Francis said on Tuesday that the universal message of Christmas was that “God is a good father and we are all brothers and sisters”. Without fraternity, the pope said “even our best plans and projects risk being soulless and empty”.
He added that “our differences, then, are not a detriment or a danger; they are a source of richness”. Francis made his appeal as trends toward nationalism, fuelling suspicion of migrants and refugees, have gained traction in much of the developed world.
Francis urged the international community to “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”.
He said he hoped an internationally-brokered truce for Yemen would bring relief to that country’s people, especially children “exhausted by war and famine”.
Other Christmas wishes expressed by the pope included one for dialogue among Israelis and Palestinians so they can “undertake a journey of peace that can 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 also cited conflicts and vulnerable populations in much of Africa, in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ukraine. He expressed hope that the “bonds of fraternity uniting the Korean peninsula” would be consolidated. On Monday, Francis celebrated Christmas Eve Mass for the faithful in St Peter’s Basilica.