Pope calls for peace in Holy Land, end to other conflicts

Updated 4:01 PM EST, Fri December 25, 2015
Pope Francis delivers his blessing from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Christmas Day.
L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP
Pope Francis delivers his blessing from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Christmas Day.
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Pope Francis gives his speech during his weekly general audience, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
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Pope Francis delivers his speech during his audience for members of the International Pilgrimage of the Ministrants at St Peter's Square on July 31, 2018 in Vatican City. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
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MALMO, SWEDEN - OCTOBER 31:  Pope Francis gives a speech during the 'Together in Hope' event at Malmo Arena on October 31, 2016 in Malmo, Sweden. The Pope is on 2 days visit attending Catholic-Lutheran Commemoration in Lund and Malmo.  (Photo by Michael Campanella/Getty Images)
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MALMO, SWEDEN - OCTOBER 31: Pope Francis gives a speech during the 'Together in Hope' event at Malmo Arena on October 31, 2016 in Malmo, Sweden. The Pope is on 2 days visit attending Catholic-Lutheran Commemoration in Lund and Malmo. (Photo by Michael Campanella/Getty Images)
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On Sunday (April 15) Pope Francis comforted a child who lost his father during a visit to a poor district of Rome, saying God has a "dad's heart".
During a meeting Francis answered questions from children and one of them, Emanuele, was too shy to speak at the microphone so the pontiff decided to invite him onto stage. The child started crying and hugged Francis and whispered his question into the pope's ears, saying he was afraid that his father, who was an atheist, could not go to heaven.
Francis comforted Emanuele and said that it is God who decides who goes to heaven and that, since God has a 'dad's heart', he will not abandon the boy's dad, even if he was not a believer.
The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics visited the parish of St. Paul of the Cross in Rome's Corviale neighbourhood and met with children of the poor district of the Italian capital and celebrated Mass for the parish community.
Reuters
On Sunday (April 15) Pope Francis comforted a child who lost his father during a visit to a poor district of Rome, saying God has a "dad's heart". During a meeting Francis answered questions from children and one of them, Emanuele, was too shy to speak at the microphone so the pontiff decided to invite him onto stage. The child started crying and hugged Francis and whispered his question into the pope's ears, saying he was afraid that his father, who was an atheist, could not go to heaven. Francis comforted Emanuele and said that it is God who decides who goes to heaven and that, since God has a 'dad's heart', he will not abandon the boy's dad, even if he was not a believer. The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics visited the parish of St. Paul of the Cross in Rome's Corviale neighbourhood and met with children of the poor district of the Italian capital and celebrated Mass for the parish community.
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Pope Francis marries flight attendants Carlos Ciuffardi, left, and Paola Podest, center, during a flight from Santiago, Chile, to Iquique, Chile, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. Pope Francis celebrated the first-ever airborne papal wedding, marrying these two flight attendants from Chile's flagship airline during the flight. The couple had been married civilly in 2010, however, they said they couldn't follow-up with a church ceremony because of the 2010 earthquake that hit Chile. (L'Osservatore Romano Vatican Media/Pool Photo via AP)
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Pope Francis marries flight attendants Carlos Ciuffardi, left, and Paola Podest, center, during a flight from Santiago, Chile, to Iquique, Chile, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. Pope Francis celebrated the first-ever airborne papal wedding, marrying these two flight attendants from Chile's flagship airline during the flight. The couple had been married civilly in 2010, however, they said they couldn't follow-up with a church ceremony because of the 2010 earthquake that hit Chile. (L'Osservatore Romano Vatican Media/Pool Photo via AP)
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A general view shows the crowd during the Easter Sunday mass on April 16, 2017 at St Peter's square in Vatican. Christians around the world are marking the Holy Week, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, leading up to his resurrection on Easter. / AFP PHOTO / Filippo MONTEFORTE        (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
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A general view shows the crowd during the Easter Sunday mass on April 16, 2017 at St Peter's square in Vatican. Christians around the world are marking the Holy Week, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, leading up to his resurrection on Easter. / AFP PHOTO / Filippo MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis meets with Polish bishops at Wawel royal castle in Krakow, on July 27, 2016 during World Youth Days.
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Pope Francis meets with Polish bishops at Wawel royal castle in Krakow, on July 27, 2016 during World Youth Days. Pope Francis heads to Poland for an international Catholic youth festival with a mission to encourage openness to migrants. / AFP / WOJTEK RADWANSKI (Photo credit should read WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Charlene, Princess of Monaco (2-L) kisses the hand of Pope Francis, as her husband Prince Albert II of Monaco (L) looks on prior to a private audience with the pontiff at the Vatican on January 18, 2016.     / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE        (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Charlene, Princess of Monaco (2-L) kisses the hand of Pope Francis, as her husband Prince Albert II of Monaco (L) looks on prior to a private audience with the pontiff at the Vatican on January 18, 2016. / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
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VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 29:  Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he leaves St. Peter's Square at the the end of Palm Sunday Mass on March 29, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. On Palm Sunday Christians celebrate Jesus' arrival into Jerusalem, where he was put to death. It marks the official beginning of Holy Week during which Christians observe the death of Christ before celebrations begin on Easter.  (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
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VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 29: Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he leaves St. Peter's Square at the the end of Palm Sunday Mass on March 29, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. On Palm Sunday Christians celebrate Jesus' arrival into Jerusalem, where he was put to death. It marks the official beginning of Holy Week during which Christians observe the death of Christ before celebrations begin on Easter. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
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Story highlights

In Christmas message, Pope Francis calls for Israeli-Palestinian talks, comes close to endorsing a two-state solution

Francis expresses hope for African countries wracked by conflict

Pontiff calls on the nations to welcome migrants and refugees, "helping them to build a dignified future"

CNN —  

Pope Francis on Christmas Day called for peace in the Holy Land and elsewhere throughout the world.

“Where God is born, peace is born,” the Pope said. “And where peace is born, there is no longer room for hatred and for war. Yet precisely where the incarnate Son of God came into the world, tensions and violence persist, and peace remains a gift to be implored and built.”

The plea came Friday in the pope’s annual “Urbi et Orbi” message, meaning “to the City [Rome] and to the World.”

Aside from calling generally for peace, Francis endorsed rather specific solutions in some cases.

He called, for example, for the Israelis and the Palestinians to resume direct dialogue, and appeared to come close to endorsing a two-state solution to the long-running conflict, saying they should “reach an agreement which will enable the two peoples to live together in harmony.”

Hope for UN to achieve peace in Syria

He also prayed that the U.N. agreement on Syria would succeed in halting that country’s devastating civil war and in remedying the “extremely grave humanitarian situation of its suffering people.”

He prayed as well for peace in Libya, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and sub-Saharan Africa, mentioning in particular Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. In those African countries, some of them wracked by ethnic and political division, Francis said he hoped that “dialogue may lead to a strengthened common commitment to the building of civil societies animated by a sincere spirit of reconciliation and of mutual understanding.”

He wished for peace in Ukraine and Colombia.

In Colombia, negotiators for the government and the rebel group FARC have set themselves a deadline of March 23 to reach a comprehensive agreement that would end Latin America’s longest civil war. But thorny issues remain, such as how to deal with past human rights violations, and the deadline will not be easy to meet.

Christmas Eve Mass: Francis urges return to traditional values

Prayers for child soldiers, victims of trafficking

He deplored recent terrorist attacks in various locations around the world, “particularly the recent massacres which took place in Egyptian airspace, in Beirut, Paris, Bamako and Tunis.”

He prayed, too, for children who have been conscripted as soldiers, for the victims of human trafficking, and for the acceptance of migrants and refugees.

“Nor may our encouragement be lacking to all those fleeing extreme poverty or war, traveling all too often in inhumane conditions and not infrequently at the risk of their lives,” Francis said. “May God repay all those, both individuals and states, who generously work to provide assistance and welcome to the numerous migrants and refugees, helping them to build a dignified future for themselves and for their dear ones, and to be integrated in the societies which receive them.”

Which are the world’s most generous countries?