VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Before giving his Christmas blessing to the city of Rome and to the world, Pope Francis called attention to the many places in the world and in human hearts that need Jesus, the Prince Peace.
“In the cold of the night, he stretches his little arms towards us: he needs everything, yet he comes to give us everything”, declared the Pope to the people gathered in a Saint Peter’s Square washed out by the rain.
“On this feast day, let us implore him to awaken in everyone’s heart a desire for reconciliation and fraternity,” Pope Francis declared on December 25, before giving his blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and in the world).
Cardinal Renato Martino, 89, a protodeacon from the College of Cardinals, announced that the solemn blessing included a plenary indulgence for those in the plaza, everyone watching on TV, listening on the radio, or following on their computers.
Jesus came into the world “like a whisper, like the whisper of a gentle breeze, to amaze the hearts of every man and woman who are open to this mystery,” the Pope said in his Christmas message.
“The Word was made flesh to dialogue with us”, he insisted. “God does not want to continue with a monologue, but a dialogue. For God himself, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is dialogue, eternal and infinite communion of love and life.
But too often in too many places, dialogue is precisely what is missing, he said, as he offered specific prayers for those struggling to survive amid war or the threat of war. , violence, oppression or crushing poverty in Syria, the Holy Land, Yemen, South Sudan, Ukraine, Myanmar and Ethiopia.
The impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare and the economy, but also on the way people live and interact, was also part of the Pope’s prayer.
With the pandemic, said the Pope, “our capacity for social relations is strained; there is a growing tendency to withdraw, to do it all on your own, to stop making the effort to meet others and do things together.
“At the international level too, there is the risk of avoiding dialogue, the risk that this complex crisis will lead to taking shortcuts rather than embarking on longer channels of dialogue,” he said. “Yet only these avenues can lead to conflict resolution and lasting benefits for all. “
Pope Francis said he knows people tire of watching or reading the news, but special attention is needed or “we risk not hearing the cry of pain and distress from so many of our brethren. and sisters “.
In addition to the “lingering tensions between Israelis and Palestinians that drag on without resolution, with ever more serious social and political consequences,” he said, people should not forget Bethlehem, “the birthplace of Jesus. , which is also struggling with the economic repercussions of the pandemic, preventing pilgrims from visiting the Holy Land and harming people’s lives.
And, said the Pope, “let us listen to the cry of children emerging from Yemen, where a huge tragedy, ignored by all, has been unfolding silently for years, causing deaths every day.”
In a troubled world, he said, Christmas celebrates hope. “Today, ‘the love that moves the sun and other stars’, as Dante says, has become flesh. He came in human form, he shared our fate, and he broke the wall of our indifference.
In the form of a prayer to the newborn Lord, Pope Francis pleaded not only for peace among the warring nations, but for all the suffering people of the city and the world and for the suffering Earth itself.
“Eternal Word become flesh,” he prayed, “make us attentive to our common home, which suffers from the recklessness with which we treat it so often. Inspire political leaders to make effective agreements, so that future generations can live in a life-friendly environment.
He prayed for women victims of domestic violence, “who have multiplied in this period of pandemic”, for the consolation of the elderly alone and for the serenity and unity of families.
He prayed for the sick, those who care for them, and for a greater effort to make COVID-19 vaccines accessible to all.
He prayed for prisoners of war and political prisoners, as well as migrants, refugees and displaced people.
“O Christ, born for us”, prayed Pope Francis, “teach us to walk by your side on the paths of peace. “
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