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 during which he again mentioned the “Third World War”.
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“May our gaze be filled with the faces of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters who are living this Christmas in the dark, in the cold or far from home, because of the destruction caused by ten months of war”, declared the Argentine pope before thousands of worshipers gathered in St. Peter's Square in Rome, some of whom waved Ukrainian flags.
"May the Lord make us ready for concrete gestures of solidarity to help those who suffer, 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!" said the pontiff, who has tirelessly pleaded for peace since Moscow invaded the country in February.
“Unfortunately, we prefer to listen to other arguments dictated by the logic of the world”, regretted the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church, noting “with sadness that the winds of war continue to blow cold on humanity”.
Before pronouncing the Urbi et Orbi blessing (“to the city and to the world”), the pope gave as usual an overview of the conflicts in the world, citing ten countries affected by violence or tensions, which he described as "theaters of this Third World War".
Among them, Afghanistan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Yemen, Syria, Myanmar, 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, hit by a wave of protest unprecedented since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Born of demands for women's rights, the demonstrations led to the arrest of around 14,000 people since mid-September, according to the UN, and 469 demonstrators have been killed, estimates the organization Iran Human Rights (IHR), based in Oslo.
He also urged not to use food "as a weapon", particularly in reference to the conflicts affecting the Horn of Africa.
"Any war causes hunger and uses food itself as a weapon, preventing its distribution to people who are already suffering", lamented the Argentinian Jesuit, inviting people to commit themselves "so that food is only a instrument of peace.