By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
VATICAN CITY (ANS – Dec. 25, 2015) — Pope Francis tackled war, terrorism and the migrant crisis in a wide-ranging Christmas message, calling for peace and reconciliation around the world.
According to the BBC, the pontiff said he prayed for the success of recent UN resolutions for peace in Syria and Libya.
The Pope also condemned “brutal acts of terrorism”, singling out France, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and Mali.
Thousands of pilgrims turned out to see the address, known as “Urbi et Orbi” – to the city and the world.
“Heavy security was in place around the Vatican as crowds lined the streets, as it has been since the November 13, 2015, Paris attacks carried out by Islamist militants,” stated the BBC.
This year also saw ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, while Europe grappled with record numbers of migrants arriving on its shores.’
‘Martyrs of today’
Pope Francis began by noting that “precisely where the incarnate son of God came into the world, tensions and violence persist.”
He went on to urge Israelis and Palestinians to resume direct peace talks, and back international efforts to end “atrocities” in Libya and Syria.
Such acts, he said, “do not even spare the historical and cultural patrimony of entire peoples”, a clear reference to the Islamic State group.
Speaking from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica, he described Christians being persecuted for their faith as “martyrs of today.”
On the migrant crisis, the Pope said “may God repay all those, both individuals and states, who generously work to provide assistance and welcome to the numerous migrants and refugees”.
“He also referenced conflicts in Ukraine, Colombia, Yemen, Iraq, Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” concluded the BBC story.
Photo captions: 1) The speech was delivered from the balcony overlooking St Peter’s Square. (Reuters) 2) Pope Francis greeting the crowds in St. Peter’s Square. 3) The Islamic State group have caused many Christian martyrs in the Middle East. 4) Dan Wooding.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the author of some 45 books and has two TV programs and one radio show in Southern California. He has reported widely for ANS from all over the Middle East.
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