Pope Francis on Monday described children dying in wars, including in the Gaza Strip, the “little Jesuses of today,” and said Israeli strikes were reaping an “appalling harvest” of civilians.
Speaking from St. Peter’s Basilica to a crowd of thousands in the square below, Francis in his Christmas Day message decried the deaths of innocents around the world, giving particular attention to the Gaza Strip, Reuters reported.
“May [peace] come in Israel and Palestine, where war is devastating the lives of those peoples. I embrace them all, particularly the Christian communities of Gaza and the entire Holy Land,” Francis said.
“I plead for an end to the military operations with their appalling harvest of innocent civilian victims, and call for a solution to the desperate humanitarian situation by an opening to the provision of humanitarian aid,” he added.
He also called the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas terrorists “abominable” and appealed for the release of the 129 hostages still held in Gaza.
The Vatican supports a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. Francis called for “persevering dialogue between the parties, sustained by strong political will and the support of the international community.”
He also blamed the weapons industry for hostilities around the world, Reuters reported.
“And how can we even speak of peace, when arms production, sales and trade are on the rise,” Francis said. “It should be talked about and written about, so as to bring to light the interests and the profits that move the puppet-strings of war.”