ANKARA

Pope Francis on Saturday called on individuals and world leaders to be open to dialogue as he celebrated a second Christmas under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Let us ask him for the strength to be open to dialogue. On this festive day, let us implore him to stir up in the hearts of everyone a yearning for reconciliation and fraternity. Let us now turn to him in prayer,” the pope said from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican.

Noting that the world continues to witness a great number of conflicts, crises, and disagreements, he said: “We have become so used to them that immense tragedies are now being passed over in silence.”

On the Syrian crisis, he said that the country experienced war for more than a decade, which has resulted in many victims and an untold number of displaced persons.

He also touched on Yemen where “an enormous tragedy, overlooked by everyone, has silently gone on for years, causing deaths every day.”

Regarding the Ukrainian conflict, the pope cautioned against fresh violence in the long-festering conflict.

“Let us recall, too, the continuing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians that drag on without a resolution, with ever more serious social and political consequences,” he said.

“Baby Jesus, grant peace and concord to the Middle East and the whole world. Sustain all those who provide humanitarian aid to peoples forced to flee from their homelands; comfort the Afghan people, who for more than forty years have been sorely tested by conflicts that have driven many to leave the country,” he added.

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