The world must take advantage of the power of love, to territory rather than power, and to bring prosperity, peace, conflict, Pope Francis has a message in his Christmas day. In the UK, Christian leaders focused on the uncertainty, anxiety and fear on the end of a turbulent year on the international stage.
In his Christmas day sermon, delivered in front of thousands of people from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the leader of the world 1.2 billion Catholics urged to go for the message of peace “to reach to the ends of the earth, all peoples, in particular those drawn from the war and hard conflicts, which seem to be stronger than the desire for peace”.
At the end of the year, has seen repeated acts of terrorism – and in the midst of tight security around the Vatican, Francis wished the peace “for those who have lost a person dear to them as a result of the brutal acts of terrorism, and for those that sowed fear and death in the hearts of so many countries and cities”.
Syria ” at the top of the Pope’s long check list of countries plagued by war and suffering over the past year. “Too much blood has been shed,” he said.
The Pope added: “especially in the city of Aleppo, site of the most terrible battles in the last few weeks, it is imperative that help and assistance to be ensured, to the weary civilian population, with respect for international humanitarian law. It is to be at the time of the armistice, for always, and the international community, to work actively towards a negotiated solution, so that civilian can be restored in the country.”
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He called on Israelis and Palestinians to “have the courage and determination to write a new page of history, where hatred and revenge give way to the will to build together a future of mutual understanding and harmony”.
The Pope called for peace, unity and dialogue in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was an “urgent need in the practice of commitments” made to implement in the East of Ukraine, he added.
He called for harmony in Colombia, “trying to agree on a new and courageous path of dialogue and reconciliation”, and the courage to Venezuela “to put the necessary steps to put an end to the current tensions”.
Turning to Asia, he spoke of the need for protection and humanitarian assistance in Myanmar, and to overcome the need for “a renewed spirit of cooperation,” tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The Pope also sent a message of peace“, our abandoned and excluded brothers and sisters, those who suffer from hunger, and to all the victims of violence. Peace, exiles, migrants and refugees, for all those who in our days are the issue of human trafficking.
Pope Francis: Christmas was ‘held hostage’ by materialism
“Peace for the people who suffer because of the economic ambitions of the few is, because of the sheer greed for money and the idolatry of money, which leads to slavery. Peace for those affected by the social and economic unrest, and for those who endure the consequences of earthquakes or other natural disasters.”
Children received an honorable mention, “especially those that the joys of childhood robbed because of hunger, the wars, or the selfishness of adults”.
Earlier, in his Christmas eve homily, Francis said that Christmas was taken “hostage” by a dazzling materialism, blinded many to the needs of the hungry, the migrants, and the war-tired.
A world that needed often obsessed with gifts, feasting, and self-centeredness, more humility. “If we want to celebrate Christmas authentically, we must be of this character: the fragile simplicity of a newborn child, the gentleness, where he is, the delicate affection of the diapers. It is God,” the Pope said.
Many in the rich world needed to be reminded that the message of Christmas was, in humility, simplicity and mystery.
“Jesus was rejected born and considered by many, others with indifference,” he said. “Today, the same indifference, if Christmas is a festival where the protagonists themselves are, rather than Jesus; when the lights of the trade to throw the light of God into the shade; if we are concerned about the gifts, but cold towards those on the margins of society.”
He then added, in unscripted remarks: “This worldliness Christmas has been taken hostage. It must be freed.”
In the Cathedral of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the head of the Church of England, spoke of uncertainty, anxiety and fear in the world, and warned against putting trust in the wrong things and values in the wrong place.
“By the end of 2016 all will find ourselves in a different kind of world, less predictable and certain, which feels more flooded with fear and division”, said the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the worldwide Anglican communion.
He told the faithful: “uncertainty in the middle so much, but far from universal, prosperity is a sign of our trust in the wrong things. It tells us that they are our values in the wrong place …
“Economic progress, technological progress, communication, progress has not yet led to economic justice. It did not honor delivered for us.”
Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader, have come in for criticism after he and Welby’s Christmas message on Twitter. He wrote: “Merry Christmas. You ignore all the negative messages from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and have a great day!”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, also spoke to the challenges of the past year in his midnight mass homily at Westminster Cathedral.
He quoted WB Yeats’s 1919 poem, The Second Coming: “things fall apart, the centre cannot hold / mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”
These words, Nichols told the Assembly, “reflect the depth and the constantly growing feeling of insecurity many of them feel today. This is not the time or place to reflect on the reasons or causes, but it is to recognize these fears and anxieties.”
Related to the humble shepherds, who found a place, by said, Jesus, the manger in Bethlehem, the cardinal: “our thoughts, prayers and actions, there must be room for the poor of our time, so that you know, perhaps, that this respect and concern. The list of those that is our welcome long: the homeless, the refugees, the victims of violence and trafficking. Their voices call for our compassion.”
Nichols also stressed the needs and uncertainties faced by those caring for the elderly parents and relatives. “You are so scared that the resources withdrawn for the fulfilment of the basic needs of their loved one as the care services are checked and reduced. For many older and vulnerable people, not only these basic needs are sometimes disregarded, but contact with people is disappearing and the darkness in the loneliness closes in.
“Addressing this challenge requires a recognition that good care for older and vulnerable people is important, but nothing less than a defining feature of our society,” he said.
In the face of fear about the “current instability in the economic Outlook and the efficiency of the political structures,” should aspire to the people, “according to truth, respect, compassion, and forgiveness,” he said.
Earlier this week, the Prince of Wales also warned that disturbing developments in 2016. “We will now see the rise of many populist groups throughout the world, the increasingly aggressive to those who find themselves on a minority faith. All of this is deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s,” Prince Charles said on the Radio 4 Today programme’s Thought for the day slot.
“The fact that almost 70 years later, we are yet to see, such evil persecution is for me beyond all belief,” he said. “We owe it to those who suffered and died not so terrible, to repeat, the horrors of the past.”