It is Christmas Day everyone, and here’s wishing all who celebrate a merry one. Pope Francis has some tidings for you too – though, admittedly, not the most radical. In his first Christmas message since being elected Pontiff, the Pope offered hopes for a better world and peace to those suffering from violence and persecution.
Standing before a crowd of 70,000 in St. Peter’s Square, Francis called for an end to conflict in Syria, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and the Middle East. He also called attention to victims of human trafficking, the plights of battered women, and those displaced by natural disasters. Read the full text via the Associated Press.
Going off script, Reuters reports, the leader of the 1.2 billion-member Catholic religion, reached out to atheists to join forces with the church – a stark break from his predecessor Pope Benedict.
"I invite even non-believers to desire peace. (Join us) with your desire, a desire that widens the heart. Let us all unite, either with prayer or with desire, but everyone, for peace," he said, drawing sustained applause from the crowd.
Francis's reaching out to atheists and people of other religions is a marked contrast to the attitude of former Pope Benedict, who sometimes left non-Catholics feeling that he saw them as second-class believers.