In his annual Christmas “Urbi et Orbi” blessing Pope Francis prayed for all those affected by violence, conflict and poverty throughout the world, asking that they rejoice in salvation offered by the birth of Christ.
“Only God’s mercy can free humanity from the many forms of evil, at times monstrous evil, which selfishness spawns in our midst. The grace of God can convert hearts and offer mankind a way out of humanly insoluble situations,” the Pope said on Christmas Day, Dec. 25.
God alone is able to save us, he said, adding that “where God is born, hope is born. Where God is born, peace is born. And where peace is born, there is no longer room for hatred and for war.”
Pope Francis spoke to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square to hear his Christmas message and receive the special blessing which goes out “to the city and the world.”
In his message, he lamented that ongoing conflicts continue to strain peaceful living in the Holy Land, and prayed for peace there as well as in war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, sub-Saharan Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, South Sudan, Colombia and Ukraine.
Francis also turned his thoughts to all those affected by “brutal acts of terrorism” throughout the world, particularly the “massacres” which have recently taken place in Egyptian airspace, in Beirut, Paris, Bamako and Tunis.
He then offered prayers for refugees forced to flee their homes due to violence, as well as for victims of human trafficking, for the unemployed and for all who suffer due to poverty. In contemplating the birth of Jesus, the Pope asked that we open our hearts to receive the grace offered on Christmas Day, “which is Christ himself.”
Jesus, he said, “is the radiant day which has dawned on the horizon of humanity. A day of mercy, in which God our Father has revealed his great tenderness to the entire world. A day of light, which dispels the darkness of fear and anxiety.”
It is also a day of peace, “which makes for encounter, dialogue and reconciliation. A day of joy: a great joy for the poor, the lowly and for all the people,” Francis said.