26 Dec 2013

End to conflicts urged by Pope

8:38 am on 26 December 2013

In his first Christmas message, Pope Francis called for an end to violent conflict in South Sudan and across the globe, and urged a commitment to peace.

Pope Francis gives his blessing from a balcony at the Vatican.

Pope Francis gives his blessing from a balcony at the Vatican. Photo: AFP / Osservatore Romano

He told pilgrims in St Peter's Square in the Vatican to pray for a peaceful end to violence in Syria and other conflict zones.

Francis, 77, also said tragic incidents involving migrants trying to reach Europe should not be repeated.

"Too many lives have been shattered in recent times by the conflict in Syria, fuelling hatred and vengeance," he said.

"Let us continue to ask the Lord to spare the beloved Syrian people further suffering."

The BBC reports he also called for peace in Iraq and a successful outcome in talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

The Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo were also mentioned.

"True peace is not a balancing of opposing forces. It's not a lovely facade which conceals conflicts and division. Peace calls for daily commitment."

In the light of attacks on some Christian communities in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere, Francis said: "Lord of life, protect all who are persecuted in your name."