Pope’s blessing “Urbi et Orbi” this year only in a small circle

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Pope Francis called for fraternity in times of pandemic in his Urbi et orbi blessing message on Christmas Day. The head of the Catholic Church remembered all people suffering because of the pandemic, as well as in conflict and emergency areas around the globe. Francis delivered his Christmas message and blessing in the Benediction Hall at the Apostolic Palace, rather than from the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica, as is customary.

Risks and dangers of childhood illnesses
Francis urgently called for solidarity toward the most vulnerable, the sick, the unemployed and those in great difficulty due to the consequences of the pandemic. In doing so, he also remembered the women who have been victims of domestic violence in these days of isolation. Francis expressed hope that in times of pandemic, everyone would be guaranteed access to vaccinations and therapies, especially the most vulnerable and those most in need.

Pope sees vaccine a “light of hope”
Vaccine is a “light of hope” when it is available to everyone, he said. “The laws of the market must not prevail over the laws of health and humanity,” the pope warned. Collaboration, not competition, is needed in vaccine development, he said.

“All in the same boat”
“In the face of a challenge that knows no borders, you cannot erect barriers. We are all in the same boat. Every person is one of my brothers and sisters,” the head of the Catholic Church stressed. He also remembered the families separated because of the pandemic, who cannot spend the Christmas season together.

Pontiff expressed sympathy
The pontiff expressed sympathy to the many children suffering from the war and conflicts in the Middle East and in various countries around the world, as well as to the “cherished Syrian people.” Francis asked God for consolation for the Iraqi people and peace for Libya, expressing hope that the new phase of ongoing negotiations would put an end to any form of hostility in the country. The Pope stressed that he prays for mutual trust between Israelis and Palestinians so that there will be a “just and lasting peace through direct dialogue.” The Pope called on the Lebanese people not to lose hope. He said it was important for Lebanon to go through a path of reforms and continue “its vocation of freedom and peaceful coexistence.”

The Pope expressed confidence that the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh would hold and that dialogue would lead to peace and reconciliation. Francis expressed his closeness to the populations of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, which “have been hit by a serious humanitarian crisis due to extremism and armed conflict, but also due to the pandemic and other natural disasters.”

The Pope also expressed his closeness to the populations of Southeast Asia hit by natural disasters, especially those in the Philippines and Vietnam, where numerous storms have triggered floods with devastating effects. The Pope also did not forget the Rohingya people in his message. “May Jesus bring hope to their suffering,” Francis stressed.

Urbi et orbi: Pope absolves faithful of their sins
The Christmas message and blessing Urbi et orbi (For the City and the Earth) are a highlight of Christian Christmas celebrations. The pope remits to the faithful the penalties for their sins if they have already previously expiated them, for example, in confession or through prayers. It is usually administered at Easter and Christmas, and then when a new pope has been elected. For this Christmas, the faithful could not gather in St. Peter’s Square as usual. Millions watched on television or via the Internet.

Pope Francis had officially kicked off Christmas celebrations at the Vatican with a festive service in St. Peter’s Basilica on Thursday evening. At the traditional Christmas Mass commemorating the birth of Christ 2,000 years ago, the pope called on the faithful to be selflessly compassionate and to love their neighbors. The head of the church called on the faithful not to “lament their own fate, but to soothe the tears of those who suffer.” Only about 200 people participated in the service in St. Peter’s Basilica.

With the blessing “Urbi et orbi” (For the city and the world), the pope remits to the faithful the punishments for their sins if they have already previously erased them, for example, in confession or through prayers. It is usually administered at Easter and Christmas and then when a new pope has been elected. “Urbi et orbi” is addressed to the city of Rome, of which the pope is bishop, and to the globe, that is, the world.

Already in March, the Pope had called on all Christians to pray together for an end to the Corona pandemic and announced the special blessing “Urbi et Orbi” as a great exception. It was the first time that Francis linked this blessing to a special prayer. It is actually only said at Christmas, Easter and after a papal election.

  • hector pascua, Source: vaticannews.va. picture: ntv.de
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