In the general audience, the Pope expressed his closeness to the victims, all civilians, of the rocket attack in Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan: “Good actions between neighbors are not built on such action but with dialogue and collaboration.”. He invited everyone to “avoid any steps that increase tension in the Middle East and other areas of war” and prayed that “Christians will achieve full unity.”
“Let’s not forget the countries at war; let’s not forget Ukraine; let’s not forget Palestine and Israel; let’s not forget the residents of the Gaza Strip who are suffering so much. Let’s pray for the many victims of war, so many victims.”
Once again, the concern about the chaos of violence that is worsening in many regions of the world was the last words of the Pope in the general audience today, Wednesday, January 17, in the Paul VI Hall.
Attack on Kurdistan, “dialogue and collaboration” required
The Pontiff did not fail to mention what happened in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, where the Iranian Revolutionary Guard claimed to have “attacked and destroyed one of the main spy headquarters of the Zionist regime (Mossad)” in the attack of “ballistic missiles” “in Erbil, northern Iraq. At least five civilians were killed in the attack, including an eleven-month-old girl, while several other children were injured. It was reported by the NGO Hengaw Organization for Human Rights. The Pope expressed his closeness and solidarity with the victims, all civilians:
Good relations between neighbors are not built with these kinds of actions but with dialogue and collaboration. I ask everyone to refrain from any steps that increase tension in the Middle East and other theaters of war.
The Royal Circus with the Ukrainian flag
The thought that Francis added at the end of his greetings to the Italian-speaking pilgrims changed the tone that, a few moments before, permeated the Nervi Hall, where a group of acrobats and jugglers from the Royal Circus performed a short sample of their shows. Many of them were wearing the Ukrainian flag, also a symbol of the unity of the population suffering from the conflict that lasted almost two years.
War always destroys; war does not sow love; it sows hatred. War is the true defeat of man. Let’s pray for the people who are suffering from the war.
Ask for help to win the spiritual battle against demons
Looking to the Middle East, the Pope’s calls for peace came as a plane arrived at Egypt’s Al Arish airport with medicine, food, and blankets intended for Israeli hostages held by Hamas. , according to the agreement reached last night between Israel and Hamas with the mediation of Qatar. Once the unloading operations are complete, the aid will be delivered to the Red Crescent, which will take it to the Rafah border crossing and from there to the Gaza Strip. Addressing the Arabic-speaking faithful, Francis blessed them in the general audience, urging them to walk “the path of love that Jesus walked on the cross.”
Only love can satisfy our hearts, heal our wounds, and give us true happiness.
And, recalling the figure of Saint Anthony Abbot, whose liturgical memory is celebrated today, the Holy Pope spoke of the battle, but in the spiritual sense of the term. He insists on precisely that “spiritual battle against demons and sin” that “must grow in holiness.” No one is immune to this fight; I’ve been repeating it for days. That’s why he asked for God’s continued help to win this battle. And he added again, referring to him, who is considered one of the founding fathers of monasticism:
May his example encourage you to accept the gospel without compromise.
May the Christians achieve perfect unity
On the eve of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the Holy Pope expressed his desire to overcome all divisions. In his greeting to the Portuguese-speaking pilgrims, he emphasized how the Lord, who created us, calls us to follow the paths of unity. Determination: “We always get the creativity to do this from the Gospel.”
I invite you to pray so that Christians can reach full communion and unite in witnessing love to all, especially the weakest.