Pope asks for ‘peaceful coexistence’ of Israelis, Palestinians

Pope Francis urged a “peaceful coexistence” between Israelis and Palestinians during his annual Christmas Day message to the world at the Vatican.

Pope Francis delivers his Urbi et Orbi Christmas Day message at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on Monday. Urbi et Orbi is Latin for "to the city and the world". Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI | License Photo
Pope Francis delivers his Urbi et Orbi Christmas Day message at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on Monday. Urbi et Orbi is Latin for “to the city and the world”. Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI | License Photo

The pope, speaking in Latin, spoke mainly of global conflict and problems. “Winds of war are blowing in our world and an outdated model of development continues to produce human, societal and environmental decline,” he said during his Christmas Urbi Et Orbi blessing from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

That includes two-state solution to the conflict between the Jews and Arabs.

“Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two states within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders,” Pope Francis said during his Urbi Et Orbi, message, which is Latin “to the city and the world.”

“May the Lord also sustain the efforts of all those in the international community inspired by good will to help that afflicted land to find, despite grave obstacles the harmony, justice and security that it has long awaited.”

His comments came four days after the United Nations General Assembly condemned President Donald Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“We see Jesus in the children of the Middle East who continue to suffer because of growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said. “On this festive day, let us ask the Lord for peace for Jerusalem and for all the Holy Land.”

Pope Francis spoke about the problems from the perspective of a baby Jesus.

“Christmas invites us to focus on the sign of the Child and to recognize him in the faces of little children, especially those for whom, like Jesus, there is no place in the inn.”

Like during his Christmas Eve mass, he discussed the plight of people in war-torn Middle East nations.

“We see Jesus in the faces of Syrian children still marked by the war that, in these years, has caused such bloodshed in that country,” he said. “May beloved Syria at last recover respect for the dignity of every person through a shared commitment to rebuild the fabric of society, without regard for ethnic and religious membership. We see Jesus in the children of Iraq, wounded and torn by the conflicts that country has experienced in the last fifteen years, and in the children of Yemen, where there is an ongoing conflict that has been largely forgotten, with serious humanitarian implications for its people, who suffer from hunger and the spread of diseases.”

He also mentioned problems in Africa.

“We see Jesus in the children of Africa, especially those who are suffering in South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Nigeria,” he said.

Pope Francis described conflict in the Korea peninsula, Venezuela and Ukraine.

“We see Jesus in the children worldwide wherever peace and security are threatened by the danger of tensions and new conflicts,” he said.

For people worldwide, he prayed for them to ease financial troubles.

“We see Jesus in the children of unemployed parents who struggle to offer their children a secure and peaceful future,” he said. “And in those whose childhood has been robbed and who, from a very young age, have been forced to work or to be enrolled as soldiers by unscrupulous mercenaries.”

Pope Francis ended his appearance with this Christmas message:

“May the birth of Christ the Saviour renew hearts, awaken the desire to build a future of greater fraternity and solidarity, and bring joy and hope to everyone. Happy Christmas!”

By Allen Cone