• No_Ads
today's Pick
Pope prays for peace in South Sudan, SyriaPublish Date: Dec 25, 2013
Pope prays for peace in South Sudan, Syria
  • mail
  • img
Pope Francis delivers his traditional Christmas "Urbi et Orbi" blessing from the balcony of St. Peters Basilica on December 25, 2013 at the Vatican.
newvision

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis on Wednesday called for humanitarian aid access in Syria and "social harmony" in South Sudan on his first Christmas in the Vatican after months of shaking up the papacy with his humble style and common touch.

Francis also pleaded for divine aid to rescue child soldiers "robbed of their childhood" and for peace in the conflict-torn Central African Republic which he said was "often forgotten and overlooked".

In a wide-ranging address known as the "Urbi et Orbi" (To the City and to the World) blessing that touched on many conflicts, the Argentine pope invited non-believers to join in a "desire" for peace in the world.

"Too many lives have been shattered in recent times by the conflict in Syria, fueling hatred and vengeance," the 77-year-old pope told a crowd of tens of thousands of faithful in St Peter's Square.

"Let us continue to ask the Lord to spare the beloved Syrian people further suffering, and to enable the parties in conflict to put an end to all violence and guarantee access to humanitarian aid," he said.

The conflict in Syria is estimated to have killed more than 126,000 people since it first started out as peaceful anti-regime protests 2011 and the violence there has unsettled the Middle East as a whole.

A grim reminder of the tensions ravaging the region came on Wednesday when a car bomb outside a Baghdad church after a Christmas service left at least 14 people dead -- the latest in a string of daily attacks.

"Heal the wounds of the beloved country of Iraq," the pope said in his prayer.

Fighting between army and rebel forces also raged in South Sudan, where thousands are believed to have been killed over the past week as the UN moves to boost its peacekeeping force to stave off a full civil war.


The UN is providing shelter for South Sudanese nationals fleeing ongoing fighting. CREDIT/AFP

The first Latin American pope asked for "social harmony in South Sudan, where current tensions have already caused numerous victims and are threatening peaceful coexistence in that young state".

The Argentinian also said Central Africa was being "torn apart by a spiral of violence and poverty", called for immigrants to be given "acceptance and assistance", urged an end to the scourge of human trafficking and prayed for typhoon victims in the Philippines.


Burundi soldiers from the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA) patrol in Fouh neighborhood, northern of Bangui. PHOTO/AFP


French soldiers part of the Sangaris operation check a car that broke a curfew in the streets of Bangui. PHOTO/AFP

The November typhoon left nearly 8,000 people dead or missing in the Philippines but survivors defiantly celebrated Christmas in their ruined communities, roasting hogs and filling churches to overflowing.

'Person of the Year'

Francis has been riding a wave of popularity following his momentous election as leader of the world's Catholics in March and was "Person of the Year" by Time magazine and the US gay rights publication The Advocate due to his now-famous remark on gay people: "Who am I to judge?"

In his first Christmas Eve mass in the Vatican, the pontiff highlighted the role played by shepherds in the Nativity, returning to the theme of humility that has been the hallmark of his papacy.

Shepherds were the first to witness the birth of Jesus "because they were among the last, the outcast," he said.

The pope also called on Catholic believers to open their hearts and struggle against the "spirit of darkness."

"If our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us," Francis said at the service in Saint Peter's Basilica.

In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, the place where Christians believe Jesus was born, Jerusalem's Latin patriarch Fuad Twal celebrated a Christmas midnight mass attended by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

In his homily, Twal called for a "just and equitable solution" to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Amid a rise in anti-Christian attacks he also said "the answer lies neither in emigration nor in closing in on ourselves.

"It consists in staying here," he said.

Thousands of pilgrims and tourists made their way past Israel's controversial separation wall to reach the Palestinian hilltop town, where snow remains on the ground from a rare winter blizzard this month.

A giant Santa was set up in Manger Square, outside the centuries-old Church of the Nativity, where a candle-lit grotto marks the spot where Christians believe the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus.

AFP

 

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Kampala RDCs defend Museveni on Besigye
Deputy Residential District Commissioners (RDCs) for Kampala have defended President Yoweri Museveni’s attack on former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) president Dr. Kizza Besigye and embattled Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago....
Catching more than fish: Ugandan town crippled by AIDS
When you risk your life fishing on dangerous seas, a drink in the bars back on shore seem a welcome relief, but in Uganda, it has created a culture with staggering rates of HIV....
Education minister Jessica Alupo has inaugurated the board to manage the students’ tuition loan scheme with a stern warning to members against corruption....
Man Utd sack manager David Moyes
MANCHESTER United sacked manager David Moyes just 10 months after he succeeded Alex Ferguson at the helm of one of the world's most famous clubs...
Judiciary to fill 10 vacant posts for judges
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is seeking to recruit 10 new judges to fill vacant posts for Justices of the Supreme Court, the Appellate Court, and Judges of the High Court....
Dissenters voice doubt over John Paul II sainthood
A much-loved pope will be declared a saint on Sunday but not everyone in the Catholic Church agrees....
WIll the national ID registration process be completed in the scheduled 4 months timeframe?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter