Pope Francis decries global 'winds of war' in Christmas Day message

ROME, Alvise Armellini (dpa)- Pope Francis issued a plea for global peace and decried the "winds of war" around the world in his traditional Christmas Day message on Monday, also calling for a "negotiated" two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Francis appeared at noon (1100 GMT) on the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica to deliver the Urbi et Orbi (to the city and to the world, in Latin) message and blessings.

"The winds of war are blowing in our world and an outdated model of development continues to produce human, societal and environmental decline," Francis said.
"Let us ask the Lord for peace for Jerusalem and for all the Holy Land," he said. "Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties."
Having previously criticized the United States' recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the pope said a "negotiated solution" should "allow the peaceful coexistence of two states within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders."
The pope said he could see Jesus in the faces of children living in all war-stricken zones, and from refugee or jobless families.
"Jesus knows well the pain of not being welcomed and how hard it is not to have a place to lay one's head. May our hearts not be closed as they were in the homes of Bethlehem," he said.
Francis called for an end to conflicts and tensions in Syria and Iraq, as well as in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Nigeria, Ukraine, the Korean peninsula and Venezuela.
He also evoked the plight of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar and Bangladesh, two countries he visited four weeks ago.
"It is my hope that the international community will not cease to work to ensure that the dignity of the minority groups present in the region is adequately protected," he said.
Popes usually deliver the Urbi et Orbi at Christmas and Easter.
The Urbi et Orbi also offers a pardon for sins. It is valid for people who attend the ceremony live, but also for those who remotely follow it on the radio or television.
According to the Vatican, 50,000 people were present in St Peter's Square for this year's message.

Monday, December 25th 2017
Alvise Armellini

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