In his annual Christmas Day “Urbi and Orbi” liturgy at the Vatican, Pope Francis called for an end to the Gaza war.
Pope Francis prayed for an end to “war, to every war, to the very mindset of war, an aimless voyage, a defeat without victors, an inexcusable folly.
May peace “come in Israel and Palestine, where war is devastating the lives of those peoples,” he said.
“I reiterate my urgent appeal for the liberation of those still being held hostage. I plead for an end to the military operations with their appalling harvest of innocent civilian victims and call for a solution to the desperate humanitarian situation by opening to the provision of humanitarian aid, he said.
“I implore peace for Ukraine. Let us renew our spiritual and human closeness to its embattled people,” Pope Francis said, also calling for the resolution of conflicts simmering in the Middle East, Africa, and the Caucasus.
The Gaza conflict made for a somber Christmas in Bethlehem, the historical city in the occupied West Bank where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born more than 2,000 years ago and was laid in a manger.
The town ditched its famous huge Christmas tree, marching bands, and grandiose nativity scene, instead opting for a few holiday lights.
In the center of town, a huge Palestinian flag had been unfolded with a banner declaring that “the bells of Bethlehem ring for a ceasefire in Gaza.”.
“A lot of people are dying for this land,” said Nicole Najjar, an 18-year-old student.
“It’s really hard to celebrate while our people are dying,” he added.