To the City of Rome, and To the Whole World Pope Francis' Christmas Message (Urbi et Orbi)
Pope Francis waves as he arrives to leads "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message from the balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on December 25, 2016. He offered a Christmas hope for peace in a world lacerated by war and terrorism, urging people to remember migrants, refugees and those hit by economic instability caused by "idolatry of money". Francis, marking the fourth Christmas season since his election in 2013, also urged Palestinians and Israelis, facing renewed tension after a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements on occupied land, to have the courage to put aside hate and revenge and "write a new page of history".
Pope Francis advocated peace in the Middle East as tens of thousands gathered to hear his Christmas address while offering comfort to victims of terrorism after a year of bloody jihadi attacks. The 80- year-old Argentine called for guns to fall silent in Syria, saying "far too much blood has been spilled" in the nearly six-year conflict. And, in his message from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica to a crowd of 40,000 gathered in the square below, he urged Israelis and Palestinians to "have the courage and the determination to write a new page of history." Despite sunny weather, fewer people came to hear the pope speak. As Europe ramped up security for the holiday just days after the truck attack that left 12 dead at a Berlin Christmas market, the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics said he hoped for "peace to those who have lost a person dear to them as a result of brutal acts of terrorism." "The end of 2016 finds us all in a different kind of world; one less predictable and certain, which feels more awash with fear and division," he was due to say in his sermon Sunday. Here is the full text of Pope Francis' Christmas Message - Urbi et Orbi - to the City of Rome, and to the whole world. - Ed. Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Christmas! Today the Church once again experiences the wonder of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and the shepherds of Bethlehem, as they contemplate the newborn Child laid in a manger: Jesus, the Savior. On this day full of light, the prophetic proclamation resounds: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. And the government will be upon his shoulder; and his name will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Is 9:6) The power of this Child, Son of God and Son of Mary, is not the power of this world, based on might and wealth; it is the power of love. It is the power which created the heavens and the earth, which gives life to all creation: to minerals, plants and animals; it is the force which attracts man and woman, and makes them one flesh, one single existence; it is the power which gives new birth, pardons faults, reconciles enemies, and transforms evil into good. It is the power of God. This power of love led Jesus Christ to strip himself of his glory and become man; it led him to give his life on the cross and to rise from the dead. It is the power of service, which inaugurates in our world the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice and peace. For this reason, the birth of Jesus was accompanied by the angels' song as they proclaimed: "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!" (Luke 2:14). Today this message goes out to the ends of the earth to reach all peoples, especially those scarred by war and harsh conflicts that seem stronger than the yearning for peace. Peace to men and women in the war-torn land of Syria, where far too much blood has been spilled. Above all in the city of Aleppo, site of the most awful battles in recent weeks, it is most urgent that assistance and support be guaranteed to the exhausted civil populace, with respect for humanitarian law. It is time for weapons to be still forever, and the international community to actively seek a negotiated solution, so that civil coexistence can be restored in the country. Peace to women and men of the beloved Holy Land, the land chosen and favored by God. May Israelis and Palestinians have the courage and the determination to write a new page of history, where hate and revenge give way to the will to build together a future of mutual understanding and harmony. May Iraq, Libya and Yemen - where their peoples suffer war and the brutality of terrorism - be able once again to find unity and concord. Peace to the men and women in various parts of Africa, especially in Nigeria, where fundamentalist terrorism exploits even children in order to perpetrate horror and death. Peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, so that divisions may be healed and all people of good will may strive to undertake the path of development and sharing, preferring the culture of dialogue to the mindset of conflict. Peace to women and men who to this day suffer the consequences of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, where there is urgent need for a common desire to bring relief to the civil population and to put into practice the commitments which have been assumed. We implore harmony for the dear people of Colombia, which seeks to embark on a new and courageous path of dialogue and reconciliation. May such courage also motivate the beloved country of Venezuela to undertake the necessary steps to put an end to current tensions, and build together a future of hope for the whole population. Peace to all who, in different areas, are enduring sufferings due to constant dangers and persistent injustice. May Myanmar consolidate its efforts to promote peaceful coexistence and, with the assistance of the international community, provide necessary protection and humanitarian assistance to all those who gravely and urgently need it. May the Korean peninsula see the tensions it is experiencing overcome in a renewed spirit of cooperation. Peace to those who have lost a person dear to them as a result of brutal acts of terrorism, and to those who have sown fear and death into the hearts of so many countries and cities. Peace - not merely the word, but a real and concrete peace - to our abandoned and excluded brothers and sisters, to those who suffer hunger and to all the victims of violence. Peace to exiles, migrants and refugees, to all those who in our day are subject to human trafficking. Peace to the peoples who suffer because of the economic ambitions of the few, because of the sheer greed and the idolatry of money, which leads to slavery. Peace to those affected by social and economic unrest, and to those who endure the consequences of earthquakes or other natural catastrophes. Peace to the children, on this special day on which God became a child, above all those deprived of the joys of childhood because of hunger, wars or the selfishness of adults. Peace on earth to men and women of goodwill, who work quietly and patiently each day, in their families and in society, to build a more humane and just world, sustained by the conviction that only with peace is there the possibility of a more prosperous future for all. Dear brothers and sisters, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given": he is the "Prince of peace". Let us welcome him! To you, dear brothers and sisters, who have gathered in this Square from every part of the world, and to those in various countries who are linked to us by radio, television and other means of communication, I offer my greeting. On this day of joy, we are all called to contemplate the Child Jesus, who gives hope once again to every person on the face of the earth. By his grace, let us with our voices and our actions give witness to solidarity and peace. Merry Christmas to all!