Pope's Christmas message denounces 'evil', praises those taking in refugees

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis issued a Christmas Day prayer that recent U.N.-backed peace processes for Syria and Libya will quickly end the suffering of their people.

See Full Article

He denounced the "monstrous evil" and atrocities they have endured and praised the countries that have taken in their refugees.

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 and in Beirut, Mali and Tunisia. He denounced the ongoing conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and Ukraine and issued words of consolation to Christians being persecuted for their faith in many parts of the world.

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

In an indirect reference to the Islamic State group, he urged the international community to direct its attention to Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and sub-Saharan Africa, where atrocities "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.

The U.N. Security Council last week threw its support behind a peace process for Syria including a cease-fire and talks between the Damascus government and the opposition. The council has also recently endorsed the U.N.-brokered deal to form a unity government that Libya's rival factions have signed.

"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," Francis 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."

Francis' Christmas celebrations, which began Thursday night with a late-night Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, continue with a noon blessing on Saturday and a Mass on Sunday dedicated to families as part of Francis' Holy Year celebrations.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Montreal mosque denies asking that female construction workers be barred from site

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Members of a Montreal mosque are denying a TV report it asked for female construction workers to be excluded from a site opposite their building. They say they were surprised and astonished to hear about the report broadcast on the TVA network. Source
  • Kingston man, 60, charged with sexually assaulting daughter, 16

    Canada News CTV News
    KINGSTON, Ont. - Kingston police say they have charged a 60-year-old man for allegedly sexually assaulting his teenage daughter. They say they were contacted by Family and Children's Service about a suspected sexual assault last Friday. Source
  • Former 'Apprentice' star Omarosa Manigault Newman to leave White House job

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The White House says Omarosa Manigault Newman -- one of U.S. President Donald Trump's most prominent African-American supporters -- plans to leave the administration next month. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Manigault Newman's resignation is effective Jan. Source
  • Theresa May trying to fend off party dissent over Brexit deal

    World News CBC News
    British Prime Minister Theresa May warned rebellious lawmakers in her own party they could endanger the smooth exit from the European Union if they tried to change her Brexit blueprint later on Wednesday. May has tried to avert a rebellion in Parliament by promising Parliament a series of votes on any deal to leave the EU "as soon as possible" after Brexit talks end, but offered little new ahead of Wednesday's session. Source
  • 'Inflammatory' claims cited in appeal of Saskatchewan swimming mishap settlement

    Canada News CBC News
    The University of Regina is appealing a jury's decision that awarded $9.1 million to a woman who was left a quadriplegic after a swimming accident at the school. Miranda Biletski was 16 in June 2005 when she hit the bottom of the university's pool during a dive. Source
  • Alabama voters were sharply divided by race, religion, gender, exit polls indicate

    World News CBC News
    U.S. political pundits routinely caution against making sweeping statements based on exit poll data from elections. They also warn that special Senate or House races are unique in normal circumstances, let alone one in which an already controversial candidate faced potentially damning allegations of sexual misconduct that only arose during the campaign. Source
  • Ex-NHL star's wife: Trump made advance on me in elevator

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The wife of Hall of Fame hockey player Luc Robitaille has tweeted about an encounter with Donald Trump more than two decades ago in an elevator at Madison Square Garden. Stacia Robitaille wrote Monday on Twitter that Trump "was aggressive & told me I was coming home with him. Source
  • Republicans grill deputy attorney general over perceived special counsel bias

    World News CBC News
    Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, facing congressional questions about anti-Donald Trump text messages exchanged between two FBI officials assigned to the Russia probe, defended special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday and said he had seen no cause to fire him and didn't receive encouragement to do so. Source
  • Blue Origin successfully launches and lands upgraded spacecraft

    World News CBC News
    Private space company Blue Origin has successfully launched and landed an upgraded rocket and a new crew capsule that it bills as having "the largest windows in space." The seventh flight of the company's New Shepard suborbital spacecraft at the company's West Texas launch site Tuesday carried a test dummy called Mannequin Skywalker, equipped with sensors. Source
  • Canada's response to Rohingya humanitarian crisis tops $50M

    Canada News CBC News
    Canadian donors have chipped in $12.5 million to help Rohingyas escaping violence in Myanmar, bringing Canada's total aid to address the humanitarian crisis to $50 million. More than 625,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since August 25, 2017, most of them women and children. Source