Pope Francis gives the blessing “Urbi et Orbi”

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Pope Francis reads the traditional Christmas message in the Vatican on Christmas Day (Monday, 12:00). From the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, the head of the approximately 1.3 billion Catholics will bless Urbi et Orbi, i.e., the city and the world. It is expected that Francis will condemn the wars in the world. This year’s feast is particularly marked by the conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine. Tens of thousands of believers are expected to gather in St. Peter’s Square.

In his Christmas message last year, Francis called in vain for an end to the “senseless war” in Ukraine. This year, Christmas is overshadowed not only by the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine but also by the war between Israel and the radical Islamic Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Christmas is being celebrated very quietly in the Holy Land this year due to the war in Gaza between Israel and the Islamist Hamas. In Bethlehem in the West Bank—according to tradition, the birthplace of Jesus Christ—there are hardly any tourists, unlike usual. Christmas trees have been dispensed with. Access to the city is extremely restricted by Israeli army roadblocks. There are practically no Christmas decorations in Jerusalem, either. Christians are a very small minority in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
– source: APA/picture: vatican.va

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