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The mercy that frees us

· In his Christmas message Francis emphasizes that peace is a gift to invoke and build while on St Stephen’s he recalls the martyrs persecuted today on account of faith ·

“Only God’s mercy can free humanity from the many forms of evil, at times monstrous evil, which selfishness spawns in our midst”. At Christmas in the Holy Year dedicated to mercy, delivering the traditional message to the city and to the world, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of divine grace, the only thing, he explained, that “can convert hearts and offer mankind a way out of humanly insoluble situations”. From the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica on Friday morning, 25 December, the Pontiff stressed that “where God is born, hope is born”, and that “where God is born, peace is born”.

Nevertheless, however, there are many situations of conflict that Francis chose to list regarding the most painful circumstances humanity is experiencing in various areas of the world. He began with the place “where the incarnate Son of God came into the world”, the Holy Land where “tensions and violence persist”. He expressed that hope that “Israelis and Palestinians resume direct dialogue and reach an agreement which will enable the two peoples to live together in harmony, ending a conflict which has long set them at odds, with grave repercussions for the entire region”.

This was followed by the invocation to the Lord that “the agreement reached in the United Nations may succeed in halting as quickly as possible the clash of arms in Syria and in remedying the extremely grave humanitarian situation of its suffering people”. The Pope then noted that “it is likewise urgent that the agreement on Libya be supported by all”. He then called for the international community to direct its attention toward ending the atrocities in Iraq, Libya, Yemen and sub-Saharan Africa. After evoking “the recent massacres which took place in Egyptian airspace, in Beirut, Paris, Bamako and Tunis”, Francis conveyed hope for a future “concord among the peoples of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and South Sudan”, as well as peace in Ukraine and Colombia.

He then expressed closeness “to those who are most vulnerable, especially child soldiers, women who suffer violence, and the victims of human trafficking and the drug trade”, in addition to “to all those fleeing extreme poverty or war” as well as to prisoners.

Previously, on Thursday evening, 24 December, as he celebrated Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, the Pope called for Christmas to be lived “in a way that is simple”, by getting back to “the ”what is essential”.

Later, at the Angelus on the 26th, the Feast of St Stephen, he recalled the many martyrs still persecuted today on account of their faith.

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Dec. 6, 2016

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