International

Pope’s Christmas message appeals for peace in global flashpoints

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Christmas was celebrated all around the world on Wednesday, with Pope Francis appealing for peace in many of the world’s hotspots while festivities were muted for Filipinos battered by a typhoon, as well as in strike-bound France.

“May Christ bring his light to the many children suffering from war and conflicts in the Middle East and in various countries of the world,” Francis said in his traditional Christmas message at the Vatican, singling out the crises in Venezuela and Lebanon, as well as armed conflicts ravaging many African countries.

For her part, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II used her Christmas Day message to pay tribute to young environmental campaigners who were inspired to global action by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg.

She also described 2019 as “quite bumpy” after a year of crises in the royal family. The queen attended the annual Christmas Day service in Sandringham without her ailing husband Prince Philip, 98, who was released from hospital after a four-night stay for an unspecified illness.

But she was accompanied by Prince Andrew, her scandal-plagued second son, whose disastrous attempts to distance himself from American convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s victims have backfired. The prince gave up his public duties last month.

Earlier Wednesday, Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby sent wishes of “peace and prosperity” to South Sudan as negotiations faltered between the African country’s government and rebels.

The spiritual leaders of more than 1.3 billion Christians said they were praying “for a renewed commitment to the path of reconciliation and fraternity” in the world’s newest nation.

Typhoon Phanfone meanwhile brought a wet, miserable and terrifying holiday season to the central Philippines, stranding tens of thousands of people.

In France, Christmas was also a gloomy affair as a crippling transport strike against pension reform was set to enter its fourth week, ruining the plans of many to gather with family and friends.

AFP

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