WATCH: Pope urges all to reject darkness in Christmas message

Embrace light and look for the good in others, says pope

ROME – Pope Francis, in his Christmas message, said there’s “darkness in human hearts” which ends in religious persecution, social injustice, armed conflicts and fear of migrants.

“There is darkness in human hearts, yet the light of Christ is greater still. There is darkness in personal, family and social relationships, but the light of Christ is greater. There is darkness in economic, geopolitical and ecological conflicts, yet greater still is the light of Christ.

“May Christ bring his light to the many children suffering from war and conflicts in the Middle East and in various countries of the world. May he bring comfort to the beloved Syrian people who still see no end to the hostilities that have rent their country over the last decade. Today may he stir the consciences of men and women of good will. May he inspire governments and the international community to find solutions to allow the peoples of that region to live together in peace and security, and put an end to their unspeakable sufferings. May he sustain the Lebanese people and enable them to overcome the current crisis and rediscover their vocation to be a message of freedom and harmonious coexistence for all.

“May the Lord Jesus bring light to the Holy Land, where he was born as the Saviour of mankind, and where so many people – struggling but not discouraged – still await a time of peace, security and prosperity. May he bring consolation to Iraq amid its present social tensions, and to Yemen, suffering from a grave humanitarian crisis.

“May the tiny Babe of Bethlehem bring hope to the whole American continent, where a number of nations are experiencing a time of social and political upheaval. May he encourage the beloved Venezuelan people, long tried by their political and social tensions, and ensure that they receive the aid they need. May he bless the efforts of those who spare no effort to promote justice and reconciliation and to overcome the various crises and the many forms of poverty that offend the dignity of each person.

“May the Redeemer of the world bring light to beloved Ukraine, which yearns for concrete solutions for an enduring peace.

“May the newborn Lord bring light to the people of Africa, where persistent social and political situations often force individuals to migrate, depriving them of a home and family. May he bring peace to those living in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, torn by continuing conflicts. May he bring consolation to all who suffer because of violence, natural disasters or outbreaks of disease. And may he bring comfort to those who are persecuted for their religious faith, especially missionaries and members of the faithful who have been kidnapped, and to the victims of attacks by extremist groups, particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.”

Pope Francis gave his Urbi et Orbi (city and world) address in front of thousands of people gathered in front of St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

The pope said change starts in the hearts of individuals and despite the enormity of global problems, people can make a difference in their own communities.

About migrants and refugees, he said, “It is injustice that makes them cross deserts and seas that become cemeteries. It is injustice that forces them to ensure unspeakable forms of abuse, enslavement of every kind and torture in inhumane detention camps.

“It is injustice that turns them away from places where they might have hope for a dignified life, but instead find themselves before walls of indifference.

“May Emmanuel bring light to all the suffering members of our human family. May he soften our often stony and self-centred hearts, and make them channels of his love. May he bring his smile, through our poor faces, to all the children of the world: to those who are abandoned and those who suffer violence. Through our frail hands, may he clothe those who have nothing to wear, give bread to the hungry and heal the sick. Through our friendship, such as it is, may he draw close to the elderly and the lonely, to migrants and the marginalized. On this joyful Christmas Day, may he bring his tenderness to all and brighten the darkness of this world.”

Updated Dec. 25, 2:05 p.m.

-reporter@albertapressleader.ca

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