You don’t have to be Catholic, or even religious for that matter, to find profound meaning in the extraordinary Christmas Day message of hope against the darkness we see in the world today delivered by Pope Francis.
The traditional Christmas message from the Vatican called “Urbi et Orbi’’ (“to the city and to the world’’) has been an annual event for popes in which they press for solutions to the suffering in the world.
Hope against darkness
Hope against darkness was the main theme of the annual Christmas Day message and blessing delivered by Pope Francis from the main balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Wednesday.
“The light of Christ is greater than the darkness in human hearts,” the Pope said, adding that Christ’s light overpowers “economic, geopolitical, and ecological conflicts.’’
Conflicts around the world
Pope Francis talked about the darkness that cloaks conflicts in relationships across large parts of the world, including the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas.
The Pope and other religious leaders stressed the need for peace agreements and prayers “for a renewed commitment to the path of reconciliation and fraternity” among the nations and religions of the world.
A big cause of the conflicts are battles between people of Muslim and Christian faith.
Rocket attack on Israel on Christmas day
The Pope spoke about the seemingly never-ending conflict in Israel, where Jesus “was born as the savior of mankind and where so many people – struggling but not discouraged – still await a time of peace, security, and prosperity.’’
On Christmas day, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was rushed offstage during a campaign event after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed at least one rocket was fired into the country.
The Israel Defense force wrote on Twitter: “On Hanukkah, the festival of miracles, Israel’s modern miracle—the Iron Dome—just intercepted a rocket mid-air after it was fired from #Gaza at Israeli civilians.”
The Pope said the Syrian people “who still see no end to the hostilities that have rent their country over the last decade.’’
Hostilities in the Middle East
The Pope spoke about a number of hostilities that are ongoing in the Middle East, including the crisis in Lebanon, social tensions in Iraq, and “a grave humanitarian crisis” in Yemen.
Upheaval in the Americas
The Pope also spoke about the up evil in the Americas that is leading to many migrants fleeing the region, as well as the conditions immigrant detainees in the United States have experienced.
The Pope said the injustice occurring in the region is forcing many “to emigrate in the hope of a secure life.’’
However, the Pope said the injustice follows them along their journey, as they face abuses, enslavement, torture, risking death and dangerous crossings over waters and deserts, while some end up in “inhumane detention camps.”
The Pope added that many migrants arrive in places where they might have hoped for a “dignified life” only to “instead find themselves before walls of indifference.”
The Pope also conveyed compassion for “the beloved Venezuelan people, long tried by their political and social tensions.”
The Pope offered prayers of hope for the people of the various nations of Africa, including those “persecuted for their religious faith” in the Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria, as well as those in Congo “torn by continuing conflicts.”