Pope calls on world to say 'yes to peace' in Christmas Day message

Pope Francis celebrates the Urbi et Orbi in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Christmas Day. Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI
1 of 5 | Pope Francis celebrates the Urbi et Orbi in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Christmas Day. Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 25 (UPI) -- Pope Francis decried the fate of children whose lives have "been devastated by war" and called for the world to say "yes" to peace in his annual Christmas Day message.

He compared the world's children to the baby Jesus, whose birthday Christendom celebrated Monday.


"In their mothers' wombs, in odysseys undertaken in desperation and in search of hope, in the lives of all those little ones whose childhood has been devastated by war," the pontiff said. "They are the little Jesuses of today."

Pope Francis offered special prayers for the people of the Gaza Strip and Israel, locked in war since Oct. 7, after Hamas attacked southern Israel and took dozens of hostages. In the weeks since, violence has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians and Israelis, including thousands of women and children, according to the Palestine Ministry of Health.

The pope said his "heart grieves for the victims of the abominable attack of 7 October," calling on Hamas to release the remaining hostages from the surprise attack. He also called on Israel Defense Forces to end "the military operations with their appalling harvest of innocent civilian victims" and for "a solution to the desperate humanitarian situation by an opening to the provision of humanitarian aid" in Gaza.


"To say 'yes' to the prince of peace, then, means saying courageously 'no' to war, to every war, to the very mindset of war, an aimless voyage, a defeat without victors, an inexcusable folly," he said. "To say 'no' to war means saying 'no' to weapons.

"And how can we even speak of peace, when arms production, sales and trade are on the rise? Today, as at the time of Herod, the evil that opposes God's light hatches its plots in the shadows of hypocrisy and concealment."

Pope France delivered his annual Urbi et Orbi blessing from the central balcony at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican as thousands gathered in the square Christmas morning.

During his Christmas Eve mass, the pope briefly touched on the war in Gaza before turning his message against idolatry and consumerism. He condemned "the quest for worldly power and might."

War-time Christmas in Bethlehem

Pilgrims from Ukraine pray in the Church of Nativity, believed to be the site of Jesus' birth, in the biblical town of Bethlehem in the West Bank on December 18, 2023. The church, normally packed with tourists, has been empty due to the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

Latest Headlines