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Pope Francis calls for international dialogue

In his Christmas Day “Urbi et Orbi” address, Pope Francis focused on the importance of dialogue. He warned the faithful against social isolation in the times of the pandemic, but also drew parallels to international relationships.

“On the international level too, there is the risk of avoiding dialogue, the risk that this complex crisis will lead to taking shortcuts rather than setting out on the longer paths of dialogue. Yet only those paths can lead to the resolution of conflicts and to lasting benefits for all,” he said.

In his prayer, the Pope mentioned military and civilian victims of war and other recent forms of conflict, as well as political prisoners.

Among the territories affected by conflict, the head of the Catholic church mentioned Syria, Yemen, Israel, The Palestinian Territories, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Ukraine, Sudan and South Sudan.

The crowd on St. Peter’s Square was particularly small for the occasion. It was caused by COVID-19 restrictions and unfavourable weather conditions.

In later parts of his speech, the pontiff pointed to the consequences of a high number of conflicts in the world. His Holiness said that witnessing so much struggle and suffering makes us blind to the plight of “migrants, refugees, the displaced, and female victims of violence”.

This was an indirect reference to His Christmas Eve Mass on Friday night in St. Peter’s Basilica, where he called indifference to the poor an “offence to God”.

The word “dialogue” appeared 11 times in the Pope’s two-page speech, leaving no doubt as to what message he wanted the world to hear.

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