“Focusing on hostages, refugees and others suffering in Ukraine, Africa and the Middle East, on Thursday Pope Francis prayed for hope and peace.
“The “Urbi Et Orbi” (Latin for “to the city and to the world) message was delivered by Francis in front of tens of thousands of tourists and Romans crowded into St. Peter’s Square. The pontiff delivered his traditional Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. This year’s message was tempered by anguish for children who are victims of violence, including the recent terrorist attack on a Pakistani military school.
“The pope lamented that there were vast numbers of children who are “made objects of trade and trafficking” or forced to become soldiers. “Truly there are so many tears this Christmas”, he said after noting all the suffering and pain in the world.
“After celebrating Christmas Eve Mass late Wednesday night in St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis made a phone call to Iraqi refugees who were forced to leave their homes because of Muslim militants. Some time ago, Francis met with them at a tent camp in Ankawa in northern Iraq. Ankawa houses mostly Christian refugees forced to flee their homes because of the onslaught by ISIS militants.
“In a letter to Mideast Christians penned earlier this week, the pope urged them to remain in the region, where Christian communities have existed for 2,000 years, and to help their fellow Muslim citizens present “a more authentic image of Islam” as a religion of peace.
In the letter, the pope also warned that “even though they are experiencing exodus first hand, Iraqi Christians are still representatives of a religion.”
“Therefore, you must warn the Muslims to play nice and stop embarrassing Islam. Jihad is one thing, but acting like idiots will get them nowhere, especially when the whole world has got eyes on them. Tell them to pull themselves together soon, or it will be too late”, the letter contains.