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Pope’s Year End Message Seeks End To War, Terrorism And Greed For Money

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis on Sunday offered a Christmas hope for peace in a world lacerated by war and terrorism, urging people to remember migrants, refugees and those hit by economic instability caused by “idolatry of money”.

The 80-year-old Argentine, marking the fourth Christmas season since his election in 2013, also urged Palestinians and Israelis, facing renewed tension after a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements on occupied land, to have the courage to put aside hate and revenge and “write a new page of history”.

His traditional “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message was linked by a common thread of war, violence and suffering at a time that should be defined by harmony and peace symbolised by the infant Jesus. “Peace to those who have lost a person dear to them as a result of brutal acts of terrorism, which have sown fear and death into the hearts of so many countries and cities,” he told some 40,000 people gathered in St Peter’s Square.

Security was heightened for the Christmas weekend in Italy and at the Vatican after Italian police killed the man believed to be responsible for the Berlin market truck attack while other European cities kept forces on high alert.

“Today this message (of peace) goes out to the ends of the earth to reach all peoples, especially those scarred by war and harsh conflicts that seem stronger than the yearning for peace,” he said.

He called for peace in Syria, urging immediate assistance to the exhausted population of the city of Aleppo. “It is time for weapons to be still forever (in Syria), and the international community to actively seek a negotiated solution, so that civil co-existence can be restored in the country,” he said. “Peace to the people who suffer because of the economic ambitions of the few, because of the sheer greed and the idolatry of money, which leads to slavery,” he said.

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