Pope Francis made a fervent plea for global peace while sharply criticizing the weapons industry for perpetuating conflicts worldwide.
Addressing a crowd of about 70,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the pontiff emphasized the urgent need for dialogue and humanitarian action to overcome the rampant violence plaguing various regions.
The Pope mourned the recent “abominable attack” by Hamas on southern Israel in October and called for the release of hostages.
He also urged an end to Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, expressing distress over the loss of innocent lives and the dire humanitarian situation.
His heartfelt appeal extended to conflict zones spanning from Armenia and Azerbaijan to Syria, Yemen, Ukraine, South Sudan, Congo, and the Korean Peninsula, underscoring the imperative for peace and security.
In his annual “Urbi et Orbi” (“To the City and the World”) address, traditionally focused on global suffering, Francis lamented the sorrowful state of Bethlehem this year, juxtaposing it against the message of peace symbolized by the biblical narrative of Christ’s birth.
Pope Francis Condemns Weapons Industry
The Pope singled out the weapons industry as a major driver of conflicts, decrying its role in fueling wars worldwide and highlighting the need to expose the vested interests behind such deadly pursuits.
He unequivocally called attention to the rising production, sales, and trade of arms, emphasizing the incongruity of seeking peace amid escalating arms-related activities.
Francis reiterated his stance against the weapons industry, labeling its proponents as “merchants of death” and linking contemporary conflicts, notably in Ukraine, to the testing and depletion of weapon stockpiles.
Furthermore, he specifically called for constructive dialogue and international support to achieve a peaceful resolution between Israel and the Palestinians, emphasizing the need for genuine commitment from both sides and the backing of the global community.
The gathering in St. Peter’s Square witnessed a diverse crowd, including individuals displaying Palestinian and Ukrainian flags, echoing the global concerns articulated by the Pope.
Despite recent health concerns due to bronchitis, the 87-year-old pontiff appeared resilient during his Christmas appearances, delivering messages of hope and peace.
His schedule for the holiday season includes a blessing on the feast of St. Stephen and a New Year’s Eve vigil and Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, continuing his efforts to promote peace and goodwill worldwide.
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