In the Urbi et Orbi Christmas Message, Pope Francis asks that the distribution of anti-Covid vaccines does not become an opportunity for economic competition and individualism, but is given to everyone, first of all to the "most vulnerable" people. He recalls and prays to the Child Jesus for the Middle East, Africa, the American continent. For Asia, he remembers the Philippines, Vietnam, and the Rohingya. At Christmas, we need to rediscover the family, "as a cradle of life and faith".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - ". Thanks to this Child, we can all call one another brothers and sisters, for so we truly are. We come from every continent, from every language and culture, with our own identities and differences, yet we are all brothers and sisters".
An invitation to express universal fraternity, founded on the birth of Jesus, "born for “us” without any borders, privileges or exclusions ", was at the heart of the Urbi et Orbi Message (to the city of Rome and to the world) which Pope Francis released today. Unlike the traditional pronouncement from the loggia of the basilica, due to the restrictions related to the pandemic, he delivered his Message from the Hall of Benedictions, between two rows of guests, about fifty, all rigorously wearing surgical masks.
Universal fraternity must show itself first of all in ensuring that the vaccines against Covid-19 are distributed to all, first of all to the weakest. In his only unscripted remarks, Francis launched an appeal so that the distribution of the vaccine does not become an opportunity for economic competition, but a "light of hope ... for all", in particular for "the most vulnerable".
"At Christmas - said the Pope - we celebrate the light of Christ who comes into the world and he comes for everyone: not just for some. Today, in this time of darkness and uncertainty due to the pandemic, various lights of hope appear, such as the vaccine discoveries ".
“But in order for these lights to illuminate and bring hope to the whole world, they must be available to everyone. We cannot let closed nationalisms prevent us from living as the true human family that we are. Nor can we let the virus of radical individualism conquer us and make us indifferent to the suffering of other brothers and sisters. I cannot put myself before others, putting the laws of the market and patents above the laws of love and the health of humanity. I ask everyone: state leaders, businesses, international organizations to promote cooperation and not competition, and to seek a solution for all: vaccines for all, especially for the most vulnerable and needy in all regions of the planet. And first among all others, the most vulnerable and needy!”
The Pope defined fraternity first of all: " The fraternity he offers us has nothing to do with fine words, abstract ideals or vague sentiments. It is a fraternity grounded in genuine love, making it possible for me to encounter others different from myself, feeling com-passion for their sufferings, drawing near to them and caring for them even though they do not belong to my family, my ethnic group or my religion. For all their differences, they are still my brothers and sisters. The same thing is true of relationships between peoples and nations. May the Child of Bethlehem help us, then, to be generous, supportive and helpful, especially towards those who are vulnerable, the sick, those unemployed or experiencing hardship due to the economic effects of the pandemic, and women who have suffered domestic violence during these months of lockdown."
Then, as in a long litany prayer, Francis expressed his prayer for different areas of the world. First of all towards the Middle East and the "all too many, children worldwide, especially in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, who still pay the high price of war."
The pontiff asked the Child Jesus to " Jesus heal the wounds of the beloved Syrian people, who for a decade have been devastated by war and its consequences, now aggravated by the pandemic. May he bring comfort to the Iraqi people and to all those involved in the work of reconciliation, and particularly to the Yazidis, sorely tried by last years of war.”
He then asked for peace for Libya and for "Israelis and Palestinians", so that " regain mutual trust and seek a just and lasting peace through a direct dialogue capable of ending violence and overcoming endemic grievances, and thus bear witness before the world to the beauty of fraternity."
The Pope also recalled the Lebanese people, so that "they do not lose hope". To them and to the leaders of the country, Francis dedicated a letter just yesterday. And he called for dialogue to be undertaken "as the only path leading to peace and reconciliation" in Nagorno Karabakh and "in the eastern regions of Ukraine".
Looking at Africa, Francis quoted "the suffering of the peoples of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, affected by a grave humanitarian crisis caused by extremism and armed conflicts, but also by the pandemic and other natural disasters. May he end the violence in Ethiopia, where many people have been forced to flee because of the fighting; comfort the inhabitants of the Cabo Delgado region in northern Mozambique, victims of the violence of international terrorism; and encourage the leaders of South Sudan, Nigeria and Cameroon to pursue the path of fraternity and dialogue they have undertaken ".
Francis asked that "the May the Eternal Word of the Father be a source of hope for the American continent, particularly affected by the coronavirus, which has intensified its many sufferings, frequently aggravated by the effects of corruption and drug trafficking. ", and asked for the overcoming of the tensions in Chile and the "end to the sufferings of the Venezuelan people".
Of Asia, the pope recalled the south-east, in particular the Philippines and Vietnam, hit by "numerous storms" and damage to land and human lives. And above all, Francis recalled "the Rohingya people may Jesus, who was born poor among the poor, bring them hope amid their sufferings. ".
The Pope addressed one last thought to families: "May Christmas be an opportunity for all of us to rediscover the family as a cradle of life and faith, a place of acceptance and love, dialogue, forgiveness, fraternal solidarity and shared joy, a source of peace for all humanity".