Pope Francis has used his traditional Christmas address to call for peace in Jerusalem and highlight the plight of children scarred by conflict, after urging the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics not to ignore migrants.
Addressing tens of thousands of worshippers gathered at the Vatican to hear the pontiff’s fifth “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and The World) message, Francis called for “peace for Jerusalem and for all the Holy Land.
“We see Jesus in the children of the Middle East who continue to suffer because of growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said.
“Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two states within mutually agreed and internationally recognised borders.”
The pontiff’s plea came as fresh tensions simmered in the West Bank following President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Following Trump’s lead, Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales said Sunday his country would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Trump’s announcement on December 6 unleashed demonstrators and clashes, including in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank where Christians marked the birth of Jesus at a midnight mass.
“May the Lord also sustain the efforts of all those in the international community inspired by good will to help that afflicted land to find, despite grave obstacles the harmony, justice and security that it has long awaited,” the pope said.
The pontiff also mentioned other global flashpoints such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan and Venezuela, after stressing that the “winds of war are blowing in our world”.