News ID: 206850
Published: 0517 GMT December 25, 2017

Pope seeks peace in Mideast, highlights plight of war-scarred children

Pope seeks peace in Mideast, highlights plight of war-scarred children

Pope Francis on Monday called for peace in Beit-ul-Moqaddas in his traditional Christmas address and highlighted the plight of children scarred by conflict, after urging the world's 1.3 billion Catholics not to ignore migrants.

Addressing tens of thousands of worshippers gathered at the Vatican to hear the pontiff's fifth "Urbi et Orbi" (To the City and The World) message, Francis called for "peace for Jerusalem (Beit-ul-Moqaddas) and for all the Holy Land, AFP reported.

He urged the world to see Jesus in the innocent children suffering from wars, complaining that its people had been “largely forgotten, with serious humanitarian implications for its people, who suffer from hunger and the spread of diseases”.

"We see Jesus in the children of the Middle East who continue to suffer because of growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians," he said.

"Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached."

The pontiff's plea came as fresh tensions simmered in the West Bank following US President Donald Trump's recognition of Beit-ul-Moqaddas as Israel's capital on December 6.

"May the Lord also sustain the efforts of all those in the international community inspired by good will to help that afflicted land to find, despite grave obstacles the harmony, justice and security that it has long awaited," the pope said.

Twelve Palestinians have been killed since Trump's declaration, including a 19-year-old who died of his wounds on Sunday nine days after he was shot during a Gaza protest.

Israel seized east Beit-ul-Moqaddas in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed it, in moves never recognized by the international community.

Palestinians view east Beit-ul-Moqaddas as the capital of their future state, and interpreted Trump's statement as rejecting their right to a capital in east Beit-ul-Moqaddas.

The pontiff also mentioned other global flashpoints such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan and Venezuela, after stressing that the "winds of war are blowing in our world".

"Let us pray that confrontation may be overcome on the Korean peninsula and that mutual trust may increase in the interest of the world as a whole," the 81-year-old said.

At his Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday, Francis strongly defended immigrants, comparing them to Mary and Joseph finding no place to stay in Bethlehem and saying faith demands that foreigners be welcomed.





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