'Make peace grow': Pope issues Christmas Day prayer to end war, poverty

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis issued a Christmas Day prayer that recent U.N.-backed peace agreements for Syria and Libya will quickly end the suffering of their people, denouncing the "monstrous evil" and atrocities they have endured and praising the countries that have taken in their refugees.

See Full Article

Speaking from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, Francis issued a plenary indulgence for Catholics in hopes of spreading the church's message of mercy in a world torn by war, poverty and extremist attacks. The sun-soaked St. Peter's Square was under heavy security, as it has been since the Nov. 13 Paris attacks by Islamic extremists that left 130 dead.

An indulgence is an ancient church tradition related to the forgiveness of sins. Francis announced it after delivering his annual "Urbi et Orbi (To the city and the world)" speech listing global hotspots and his prayers for an end to human suffering.

Francis referred to the "brutal acts of terrorism" that struck the French capital this year as well as attacks in Egypt's airspace, in Beirut, Mali and Tunisia. He denounced the ongoing conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and Ukraine and issued consolation to Christians being persecuted for their faith in many parts of the planet.

"They are our martyrs of today," he said.

In an indirect reference to the Islamic State group, he said: "May the attention of the international community be unanimously directed to ending the atrocities which in those countries, as well as in Iraq, Libya, Yemen and sub-Saharan Africa, even now reap numerous victims, cause immense suffering and do not even spare the historical and cultural patrimony of entire peoples."

Francis said he hoped the plenary indulgence he issued for this, his Holy Year of Mercy, would encourage the faithful "to welcome God's mercy in our lives, and be merciful with our brothers to make peace grow."

"Only God's mercy can free humanity from the many forms of evil, at times monstrous evil, which selfishness spawns in our midst," he said.

Libya has been in a state of lawlessness since dictator Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown in 2011. Syria has seen a five-year war that has killed over 250,000 people and forced millions to flee the country. The surge of refugees flowing out of Syria to Europe has created a migration crisis for the entire continent.

"We pray to the Lord that the agreement reached in the United Nations may succeed in halting as quickly as possible the clash of arms in Syria and in remedying the extremely grave humanitarian situation of its suffering people," he said. "It is likewise urgent that the agreement on Libya be supported by all, so as to overcome the grave divisions and violence afflicting the country."

Francis praised both individuals and countries that have taken in refugees fleeing "inhuman conditions," saying their generosity had helped the newcomers "build a dignified future for themselves and for their dear ones, and to be integrated in the societies which receive them."


Latest Canada & World News

  • Parkland teens keep gun-control grown-ups at arm's length

    World News CTV News
    Before the shooting had even stopped, teenagers hiding at their Florida high school were talking about gun control. Within days, they had launched a crusade against gun violence -- one that will result in a nationwide series of protests Saturday. Source
  • Koreas to hold high-level talks next week to set up summit

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of -- The rival Koreas have agreed to hold high-level talks next week to prepare for an April summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Source
  • Trump order would ban most transgender troops from serving

    World News CTV News
    PALM BEACH, Fla. -- U.S. President Donald Trump released an order Friday night banning most transgender troops from serving in the military except under "limited circumstances," following up on his calls last year to ban transgender individuals from serving. Source
  • FBI seeks motive for fiery van crash at California air base

    World News CTV News
    ROSEVILLE, Calif. -- A 51-year-old man drove a flaming minivan loaded with propane tanks and gasoline cans through the main gate of a major Northern California Air Force base, authorities said Friday, but said the driver had no known links to terrorism. Source
  • Teen injured in Maryland school shooting dies

    World News CBC News
    A 16-year-old girl critically shot on Tuesday by a fellow student at a Maryland high school has died, authorities said. The girl, Jaelynn Willey, died late Thursday surrounded by her family, the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office said in a statement on Friday. Source
  • Calgary has run out of room to store all that snow

    Canada News CBC News
    After one of the snowiest winters Calgary in recent years, its finally happened. The city has literally run out of places to put the snow. The director of Calgary Roads, Troy McLeod, said there's pretty much no room left at the city's three snow dumps. Source
  • Dozens line up to adopt animals abandoned at Edmonton pet store

    Canada News CBC News
    Animal lovers in Edmonton lined up for hours Friday at the Edmonton Humane Society for a chance to adopt a pet from nearly 500 cats, dogs, fish, reptiles and even spiders. "We're a family that loves dogs so we thought we'd help them out," said John Grady, who with his son Jackson met the dog that will become the latest member of their family. Source
  • McGill bans bottled water from vending machines on campus

    Canada News CTV News
    Students at McGill University soon won’t be able to buy bottled water from vending machines as the university rolls out a campus-wide ban. The step, which falls in line with World Water Day, will eliminate the sale of about 85,000 water bottles each year. Source
  • No charges after Ohio deputy shoots news photographer, mistaking camera for gun

    World News CTV News
    SPRINGFIELD, Ohio -- Investigators say no charges will be filed against an Ohio sheriff's deputy who shot a news photographer setting up to photograph a traffic stop. Clark County Deputy Jacob Shaw said he mistook photographer Andrew Grimm's camera for a gun when he shot him twice, once in the side and once in the shoulder, last year in New Carlisle, about 60 miles (97 kilometres) west of Columbus. Source
  • Alberta premier calls B.C. complaints about high gas prices environmental hypocrisy

    Canada News CBC News
    Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says if British Columbia wants to keep gasoline prices low it should stop opposing the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline expansion. B.C. Premier John Horgan said Thursday he would like to see the federal government step in to deal with high gas prices. Source