Pope Francis has inaugurated Christmas with a plea for peace, addressing the ongoing wars in Israel and Ukraine.
As children worldwide track Santa’s journey, festivities clash with the harsh realities of global strife.
Vatican’s Somber Tone:
Pope Francis, at the Vatican, strikes a somber chord, expressing concern for Bethlehem, where the Prince of Peace is rejected amid the futile logic of war. He emphasizes the power of love to eradicate injustice and extends thoughts to those suffering in Palestine, Israel, and Ukraine.
Bethlehem, the biblical birthplace of Jesus, sees scaled-down festivities, foregoing its grand Christmas traditions.
A giant Palestinian flag calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, highlighting the grim reality faced by the people. Residents express difficulty in celebrating amid ongoing conflict.
The Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, arrives at the Church of the Nativity, expressing solidarity with Gaza’s Christian community.
Urging for more than just a ceasefire, he emphasizes the need to halt hostilities, stating, “Violence generates only violence.”
Ukraine, under Russia’s shadow, celebrates Christmas on December 25 for the first time, distancing itself from the Orthodox date of January 7.
President Zelensky stresses unity, marking the occasion as a symbol of solidarity for the nation, away from Moscow’s influence.
Syria, grappling with its own challenges, witnesses subdued Christmas celebrations. Churches limit festivities to prayers in solidarity with Palestinians, emphasizing the collective suffering in the birthplace of Jesus.
From a city race in Skopje to a seaside prayer in Odesa, Christmas is celebrated with diverse expressions of hope and resilience. Yet, the specter of conflict looms large, prompting reflection on the true meaning of peace in a world marred by strife.