Pope Francis called on Sunday to “silence the guns” in Ukraine, in the grip of a “senseless war”, during his traditional Christmas message to the Vatican in which he again spoke of the raging “third world war”. in numerous countries.
"May our eyes fill with the faces of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters who live this Christmas in the dark, in the cold or far from home, because of the destruction caused by 10 months of war", declared the Argentine pope before 70.000 faithful massed in St. Peter's Square in Rome, some of whom waved Ukrainian flags.
Looking serious, the head of the Catholic Church noted "with sadness that the winds of war continue to blow cold on humanity". “Unfortunately, we prefer to listen to other arguments dictated by the logics of the world”, regretted François.
"May the Lord make us ready for concrete gestures of solidarity to help those who are suffering, and may he enlighten the minds of those who have the power to silence the guns and put an immediate end to this senseless war!" “, added the sovereign pontiff, who tirelessly pleads for peace since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia at the end of February.
Yemen, Sahel and Haiti
Before pronouncing the benediction "Urbi et Orbi" ("to the city and to the world") in front of the crowd gathered under a big blue sky, the pope delivered as usual an overview of the conflicts, citing 10 countries affected by violence or tension, which he described as "theaters of this third world war".
Among them, Afghanistan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Yemen, Syria, Burma, but also Lebanon in the grip of an unprecedented economic and social crisis and Haiti, where more than 1.400 people were killed in the violence this year according to the UN.
For the first time, the pope cited Iran, affected by a wave of protest unprecedented since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Born of demands for women's rights, the demonstrations have caused the arrest of around 14.000 people since mid-September, according to the UN, and 469 demonstrators were killed, estimates the organization Iran Human Rights (IHR), based in Oslo.
During this speech broadcast live around the world, the pope also urged not to use food "as a weapon", in particular referring to the conflicts affecting the Horn of Africa and the threat of famine.
"Any war provokes hunger and uses food itself as a weapon, preventing its distribution to people who are already suffering", lamented the Argentinian Jesuit, inviting political leaders to commit themselves "so that food is not than an instrument of peace. »
On Saturday evening, some 7.000 people attended the Christmas night mass presided over by the pope in St. Peter's Basilica, according to the Vatican.
The 86-year-old pope, who still uses a wheelchair due to knee pain, prayed for "children devoured by wars, poverty and injustice", lamenting that "men greedy for power and money consume their loved ones, their brothers.
Faced with “consumerism”, the pontiff invited us to “leave the heat of worldliness” and “rediscover the meaning of Christmas”, pleading for a charitable Church at the service of the poor.
"It's very inspiring to be here with all these people, we are happy and moved to see the pope, even if we are outside, and to feel this connection between us," Victoria Machado, 19, told AFP. years old, came from Mexico with her family.
Like her, some 4.000 people who could not get tickets followed the celebration on giant screens installed outside.
The Editorial Board (with AFP)