Pope calls for peace in Holy Land, end to other conflicts

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Pope Francis on Christmas Day called for peace in the Holy Land and elsewhere throughout the world.

“Where God is born, peace is born,” the pope said. “And, where peace is born, there is no longer room for hatred and for war. Yet, precisely where the incarnate son of God came into the world, tensions and violence persist, and peace remains a gift to be implored and built.”

The plea came Friday in the pope’s annual ‘Urbi et Orbi’ message, meaning ‘to the City (of Rome) and to the World.’

Aside from calling generally for peace, Francis endorsed rather specific solutions in some cases.

He called, for example, for the Israelis and the Palestinians to resume direct dialogue and appeared to come close to endorsing a two-state solution to the long-running conflict, saying they should “reach an agreement which will enable the two peoples to live together in harmony.”

Hope for UN to achieve peace in Syria

He also prayed that the U.N. agreement on Syria would succeed in halting the country’s devastating civil war and in remedying the “extremely grave humanitarian situation of its suffering people.”

He prayed as well for peace in Libya, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and sub-Saharan Africa, mentioning in particular Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

In the African countries, some of them wracked by ethnic and political division, Francis said he hoped that “dialogue may lead to a strengthened common commitment to the building of civil societies animated by a sincere spirit of reconciliation and of mutual understanding.”

He wished for peace in Ukraine and Colombia.

In Colombia, negotiators for the government and the rebel group FARC have set themselves a deadline of March 23 to reach a comprehensive agreement that would end Latin America’s longest civil war.

But, thorny issues remain, such as how to deal with past human rights violations, and the deadline will not be easy to meet.

Prayers for child soldiers, victims of trafficking

He deplored recent terrorist attacks in various locations around the world, “particularly the recent massacres which took place in Egyptian airspace, in Beirut, Paris, Bamako and Tunis.”

He prayed, too, for children who have been conscripted as soldiers, for the victims of human trafficking and for the acceptance of migrants and refugees.

“Nor may our encouragement be lacking to all those fleeing extreme poverty or war, traveling all too often in inhumane conditions and not infrequently at the risk of their lives,” Francis said. “May God repay all those, both individuals and states, who generously work to provide assistance and welcome to the numerous migrants and refugees, helping them to build a dignified future for themselves and for their dear ones, and to be integrated in the societies which receive them.”

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