Pope Francis, in his Christmas message this Saturday (25), lamented the increasing polarization in personal and international relations, saying that only dialogue can resolve conflicts ranging from family feuds to threats of war.
In his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and to the world) blessing, he urged individuals and world leaders to talk to each other rather than tapping their foot – a distance he said was exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our ability to socialize is being put to the test hard; there is a growing tendency to pull away, to do everything for ourselves, to stop striving to meet others and do things together,” he said from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on a rainy and windy Christmas at the Vatican.
“Also at the international level, there is a risk of avoiding dialogue, the risk that this complex crisis will lead to shortcuts instead of longer paths of dialogue. However, only these paths can lead to conflict resolution and lasting benefits for all,” he said.
Francisco, who turned 85 last week, listed conflicts, tensions or crises in Syria, Yemen, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Ukraine, Sudan, South Sudan and elsewhere.
“We continue to witness a huge number of conflicts, crises and disagreements,” he said, speaking from the same balcony where he first appeared to the world as pope after his election on March 13, 2013.
“These never seem to end; at this point, we barely notice them. We are so used to them that immense tragedies now pass silently; we run the risk of not hearing the cry of pain and anguish from so many of our brothers and sisters,” he said, speaking to an exceptionally small crowd, reduced by Covid-19 restrictions and the weather to just a few thousand.
He asked God to “give serenity and unity to families,” commending those who strive to keep them and communities together in such divisive times.
“Let’s ask him for the strength to open himself to dialogue. On this festive day, we implore you to awaken in the hearts of all the desire for reconciliation and brotherhood”, he said.
He used the word “dialogue” in total 11 times in a speech of just over two pages, as he spoke to people huddled under raincoats and umbrellas.
Francis asked God to “prevent further outbreaks of a long-lasting conflict” in Ukraine, which accused Russia of mustering tens of thousands of soldiers in preparation for a possible full-scale military offensive.
Russia denies having planned any attacks and accuses Ukraine and the United States of destabilizing behavior, saying it needs security guarantees for its own protection.
The Pope urged people not to be indifferent to the plight of migrants, refugees, displaced persons, political prisoners and women victims of violence and urged leaders to protect the environment for future generations.
At his Christmas Eve Mass Friday night in St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis said that people indifferent to the poor offend God and urged everyone to “look beyond all lights and decorations” and remember the most needy.
Reference: CNN Brasil