NAIJA REBRANDER

Pope Francis Prayed for divine peace for Nigeria

Nigeria was among the nations that Pope Francis prayed for yesterday in his “Urbi et Orbi’ Christmas Day message, which he delivered in Italian from the central balcony of St. •Condemns Islamic State, decries suffering of children He also prayed for other parts of the African continent, charging political leaders to promote lasting fraternal coexistence. He also prayed for children who are victims of violence, trafficking as well as all victims of the deadly Ebola virus. “May Christ the Savior give peace to Nigeria, where (even in these hours) more blood is being shed and too many people are unjustly deprived of their possessions, held as hostages or killed,” the Pontiff prayed. “I invoke peace also on the other parts of the African continent, thinking especially of Libya, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and various regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I beseech all who have political responsibility to commit themselves through dialogue to overcoming differences and to building a lasting, fraternal coexistence. “May Jesus save the vast numbers of children who are victims of violence, made objects of trade and trafficking, or forced to become soldiers; children, so many abused children. May he give comfort to the families of the children killed in Pakistan last week. “May he be close to all who suffer from illness, especially the victims of the Ebola epidemic, above all in Liberia, in Sierra Leone and in Guinea. As I thank all who are courageously dedicated to assisting the sick and their family members, I once more make an urgent appeal that the necessary assistance and treatment be provided. His blessing yesterday included hope for peaceful resolutions of other conflicts around the world. He prayed for reconciliation in Ukraine. He condemned Islamic State fighters who have killed or displaced Shi’ite Muslims, Christians and others in Syria and Iraq who do not share the group’s ideologies. “I ask him, the savior of the world, to look upon our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria, who for too long now have suffered the effects of ongoing conflict, and who, together with those belonging to other ethnic and religious groups, are suffering a brutal persecution,” he said. The pontiff appealed for compassion for refugees “so that all who now are suffering may receive the necessary humanitarian help to overcome the rigors of winter.” Tens of thousands gathered yesterday in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City to hear the pontiff’s blessing, which is customarily global in nature. “Urbi et Orbi” is Latin, meaning “to the city (Rome) and to the world.” The message comes a day after Francis delivered his second midnight Mass as Pope. The Pope has used his influence as the spiritual leader of all Catholics around the world to affect political outcomes this year. He played a key role in a historic breakthrough in U.S.-Cuba relations this month and urged religious tolerance during a visit to Turkey in November.
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