Francis says during traditional ‘Urbi et Orbi’ blessing and message that the world is experiencing ‘a grave famine of peace’.
Pope Francis, in his traditional Christmas message, has appealed for an end to the “senseless” war in Ukraine and other conflicts, calling for an end to the use of food as a weapon of war.
Delivering the 10th Christmas “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) blessing and message of his pontificate, the head of the Roman Catholic Church on Sunday also urged people to look beyond the “shallow holiday glitter” and help the homeless, immigrants, refugees and the poor in their midst seeking comfort, warmth and food.
“Let us see the faces of all those children who, everywhere in the world, long for peace,” he said, speaking from the central balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.
“Let us also see the faces of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters who are experiencing this Christmas in the dark and cold, far from their homes due to the devastation caused by 10 months of war,” Francis told the tens of thousands of people in the square below.
“May the Lord inspire us to offer concrete gestures of solidarity to assist all those who are suffering, and may he enlighten the minds of those who have the power to silence the thunder of weapons and put an immediate end to this senseless war!” the 86-year-old pontiff said.
He spoke just hours after air raid sirens wailed across Ukraine and a day after Ukrainian officials said a Russian attack on the recently liberated city of Kherson killed at least 10 people and wounded dozens.
The pope again condemned the use of food as a weapon of war, saying the war in Ukraine had put millions at risk of famine, mentioning Afghanistan and countries in the Horn of Africa.
The Ukraine conflict, the pope said, should not diminish concern for people whose lives have been devastated by other conflicts or humanitarian crises, naming among others, Syria, Myanmar, Iran, Haiti and the Sahel region of Africa.
“We know that every war causes hunger and exploits food as a weapon,” he said, lamenting what he described as “a grave famine of peace”.
“[Let us] starting with those who hold political responsibilities, commit ourselves to making food solely an instrument of peace,” he added.
As many sat around “a well-spread table”, huge amounts of food daily go to waste and resources are spent on weapons, he said.
The pope also called for a resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land, the place of Jesus’ birth.
This year has seen the worst levels of violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in more than a decade, with at least 150 Palestinians and more than 20 Israelis killed.