Leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis has warned that the world is becoming so desensitized to crises, war, and suffering that people no longer care anymore.
In his annual Christmas Day message delivered Saturday, December 25, the pontiff pointed to the ongoing turmoil in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq, as well as Africa, Europe, and Asia.
He spoke to thousands of Catholic faithful who were wearing face masks amid Covid precautions. The faithful watched in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican as the Pope delivered his Urbi et Orbi address from the balcony of the Basilica.
In his address, Pope Francis warned about the social consequences of the pandemic, saying there was “a growing tendency to withdraw… to stop making an effort to encounter others and do things together”.
He said that “on the international level too there is the risk of avoiding dialogue, the risk that this complex crisis will lead to taking shortcuts rather than setting out on the long path” to resolve conflicts.
“We continue to witness a growing number of conflicts, crises, and disagreements,” he said. “These never seem to end and by now we hardly even notice them.
“We have become so used to them that immense tragedies are being passed over in silence.”
He singled out Syria, Iraq, and Yemen “where an enormous tragedy overlooked by everyone has silently gone on for years”.
He also talked about tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, and the “unprecedented” economic crisis gripping Lebanon.
Turning to Asia, the Pope asked God to comfort the people of Afghanistan “who for more than 40 years have been sorely tested by conflicts”, and to “sustain the people of Myanmar where intolerance and violence not infrequently target the Christian community and its places of worship”.
He also prayed for peace in Ukraine, Ethiopia and the Sahel, which has been a front line in the war against Islamist militancy for almost a decade.
Pope Francis, then urged followers to show more compassion towards the poor and to “value the little things in life”.
“On this night of love, may we have only one fear: that of offending God’s love, hurting him by despising the poor with our indifference,” he said.