Pope Francis delivers the Urbi et Orbi (Latin for "to the city and to the world") Christmas Day blessing from the main balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Dec. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pope's Christmas wish: World fraternity despite differences

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis offered a Christmas wish for fraternity among people of different nations, cultures, faiths, races or ideas, describing the world's differences as a richness, not a danger, and championing the rights of religious minorities.

His plea Tuesday for stronger bonds among peoples came as nationalism and a suspicion of migrants are gaining traction across much of the globe.

The long war in Syria, famine amid warfare in Yemen, social strife in Venezuela and Nicaragua, conflicts in Ukraine and tensions on the Korean Peninsula were among the pope's concerns in his Christmas Day message, which he read from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

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Addressing some 50,000 tourists, pilgrims and Romans who flocked to St. Peter's Square on a mild, sunny day, Francis said the universal message of Christmas is that "God is a good Father and we are all brothers and sisters."

"This truth is the basis of the Christian vision of humanity," Francis said in the traditional papal "Urbi et Orbi" ("to the city and the world") message. Without fraternity, he said, "even our best plans and projects risk being soulless and empty." He called for that spirit among individuals of "every nation and culture" as well as among people "with different ideas, yet capable of respecting and listening to one another."

"Our differences, then, are not a detriment or a danger; they are a source of richness," Francis said.

Francis prayed that all minorities have their right to religious freedom respected, noting that some Christians were celebrating Christmas "in difficult, if not hostile, situations."

Communist China is witnessing a systematic suppression of religion, including some restrictions on Christmas celebrations this year. The government's suppression campaign includes re-education camps for Uighur Muslims and a crackdown on Christian churches.

Without specifying religions or countries, Francis prayed for "all those people who experience ideological, cultural and economic forms of colonization and see their freedom and identity compromised."

Francis urged the international community to find a political solution that "can put aside divisions and partisan interests" and end the war in Syria. He said he hoped that an internationally brokered truce for Yemen would bring relief to that country's people, especially children, "exhausted by war and famine."

He encouraged dialogue among Israelis and Palestinians to end conflict "that for over 70 years has rent the land chosen by the Lord to show his face of love."

In Africa, Francis recalled the millions fleeing warfare or in need of food, and prayed for "a new dawn of fraternity to arise over the entire continent."

Francis urged Venezuelans to "work fraternally for the country's development and to aid the most vulnerable." Millions of Venezuelans are fleeing their country's economic and humanitarian crisis in what has become the largest exodus in modern Latin American history, according to the United Nations.

On Monday night, the 82-year-old pope celebrated Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.


  1. The reality world works well without all the mythical hype.

  2. Francis would be more persuasive if his own house were not such a cesspool.

  3. Rather than “cesspool” I assume you mean “totally in agreement with me” or “no longer Catholic”.

  4. >>Pope’s Christmas wish: World fraternity despite differences<<
    Romans 12:18 conveys We ARE called to live as much as possible on our part, live at peace with everyone.

    At the same time one is also called to share the good news
    Psalm 105:1
    Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done”

    (1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”

  5. And, as is usually the case with Francis, he’s right and on target.

  6. Every fictional story has to have a great character. I hope this does not mean that I am going to the hellfire. I am a pretty good man, other than the fact that I question ancient religious texts.

  7. Yoko Ono needs to start examining the Pope’s many utterings for signs of plagurism of her late husband’s uttterings.

    They are just as popular and just as shallow.

  8. So, “peepsqueek” is your great character in your fictional story?

  9. Joseph Campbell said the Bible should be read as poetry – not prose.

    So Campbell correctly places JC within the ranks of the Cyclops’ of Greek mythology.

  10. Yes, Saint Nicholas was a real person like Jesus who eventually morphed into a fat jolly character that lives at the north pole, wears a red suit, and uses flying reindeer at his mode of transportation. I even have a collection of hand painted Santas that my five grown grandchildren will inherit.

  11. I would place the Jesus story more with Saint Nicholas. -Saint Nicholas was a Bishop who lived in the fourth century in a place called Myra in Asia Minor (now called Turkey). He was a very rich man because his parents died when he was young and left him a lot of money. He was also a very kind man and had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people who needed it. There are a number legends about St. Nicholas, although we don’t know if any of them are true!

  12. Jesus morphed into a fat jolly character that lives at the north pole, wears a red suit, and uses flying reindeer at his mode of transportation?

  13. No, Saint Nicholas was a real person like Jesus. Jesus morphed into the Son of God, and no one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven, unless they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Which leads to the question, how did anyone on the planet enter the Kingdom of Heaven before Jesus was born. Human bones found in East Africa are approximately one million years old, according to collective since. The European Neanderthal man may have come even earlier.

  14. Either Jesus WAS the Son of God or was not, there is no morphing.

    There is no question about how anyone on the planet entered the Kingdom of Heaven before Jesus was born.

    The answer is mentioned in the Nicene Creed.

    If your level of knowledge is such that you were unaware of that, you may feel more comfortable in another forum:


  15. Please think before you post. Jesus would have spoken to “his people” in a semitic language. Jesus never wrote down anything in his life time, and the Gospels were written in Greek. Jesus was give all the attribute of former Greek Gods in Greek mythology. Therefore Jesus morphed in the process of creating a myth.

    How can there be no question of how anyone on the planet entered the Kingdom of Heaven before Jesus? —

    Buddhist Sacred Texts: The Sutras

    Hindu Sacred Texts: The Vedas or “Books of Knowledge”

    Jewish Sacred Texts: The Tanach, Mishnah, Talmud and Midrash

  16. Blah, blah, blah, blah.

    Copying and pasting nonsense that you don’t understand from websites that fuel scoffing does not advance your argument.

    For example, asking yet again “How can there be no question of how anyone on the planet entered the Kingdom of Heaven before Jesus?” makes it clear you have significant gaps in your database.

    A literate 1st century Palestinian Jew would know Aramaic, Hebrew, and the Greek dialect Koine.

  17. Yes, some people, for example think Jesus is a fictional character.

    In studying known fictional characters in comparison to real historical personages and their effect on morals, culture, political impact and continual influence; the assertion that Jesus is a fictional character, implies a belief in miracles far more amazing than if he actually existed, healing the blind, sick, lame, and crazy; and rose from the dead.

  18. Jesus may not be a fiction, but his story is definitely fictionalized, starting with his mother being a virgin at the time of Jesus birth, something the Gospel writers could not have know.

    According to the story, he worked with his earthly father as a carpenter for his first thirty years in the very small town of Nazareth. He was unmarried but started running around with a bunch of young men, tell everyone to love each other. Is it possible that Jesus was gay Jewish man? And if he was, would you still praise him? Just asking!

  19. 1–We have to remember that Mother Mary was part of the disciple group so she herself would give the information about the conception, including the 25 December birthdate, so its a contemporary source to them.
    2–Where Jesus was between 12 and 29 years old is a matter of conjecture. The Bible and no other western source from that period places him in Israel during that time, tradition though, placing him in Israel the whole time. Scrolls discovered in a Tibetan monastery suggest he left Israel shortly after 12 years old After touring Persia, India, Nepal and perhaps venturing as far as Tibet, studying with various sages, performing miracles and eluding assassination attempts he reappeared in Israel around 29-30 years of age and was baptized by John.

    Three years later he was crucified. Disciples, looking for an exit strategy, were suddenly re-energized after what was represented to them as the resurrected Jesus, with an empty tomb and no body. Their following is further buttressed by the Holy Spirit and 5000-10,000 people are added to the new church in a few weeks. To secular historians, who do not consider the miracles, it is a mystery how Christianity succeeded.

    Documents were written shortly after Jesus resurrection, completed in the form we have them (though later compiled from scattered sources and translated) beginning 48AD at the latest 90-110AD. Earlier inception documents may have preceded these, such a as “Q”, however there is not enough information to make informed an informed speculation. The New Testament documents were first written in Greek because Greek was spoken by more Jews than Hebrew.

  20. Nice fantasy! And why would Mary bother to tell a group of men that she was a virgin years after Jesus had passed? Please think before you post. Historic Encyclopedia– It is generally agreed by historians that Jesus and his disciples primarily spoke Aramaic (Jewish Palestinian Aramaic), the common language of Judea in the first century AD, most likely a Galilean dialect distinguishable from that of Jerusalem. The villages of Nazareth and Capernaum in Galilee, where Jesus spent most of his time, were Aramaic-speaking communities.

  21. Mother Mary would not have to tell said individuals as suggested about her virginity, Jesus’ brothers, especially James, were part of the early Christian church and could been a source of the information.

    The fact is that many Jews could not even read Hebrew anymore, prompted around 280 BC a translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek continuing until about 130 BC. Greek was the widely used language of scholarship during the years of the composition of the New Testament.

    If some of the inception documents were have been in Palestinian Aramaic, we do not know for sure, without copies from the original being maintained by recopying , as the originals disappear because of deterioration. Since more people, even Jews could read Greek and to reach a wider Gentile audience, Greek would have been more preferable anyway.

  22. First of all, Jews have maintained their religious texts throughout the centuries and they are all in a semitic language, and second, Jesus brothers would not know if their mother was a virgin at the time of his birth. Please think before you post.

  23. >>First of all, Jews have maintained their religious texts throughout the centuries and they are all in a semitic language, <>and second, Jesus brothers would not know if their mother was a virgin at the time of his birth. <<

    ..although considering they saw, heard about Jesus turning water into wine, healing the sick, lame and crazy and alive looking good after being executed and placed into a tomb, there was little reason for the brothers, disciples and / or associates to doubt Mother Mary when when it was revealed that she was a Virgin when she conceived Jesus.

  24. Your quote came from the International Bible Society, and is not exact history. Most people of the time were illiterate and even Jewish religious stories were based on fantasy and fiction from the so-called “creation of man” in one earth day to Noah’s ark. Adam and Eve were fictional characters and Mary was not a virgin. DNA is an accepted science all over the world. If a woman made that claim today, it could be verified. Otherwise, no one could verify an absurd claim like that. Jesus was just one of many trouble makers for the Romans as they took over the Middle East and North African land mass for 500 years, until the Islamic invaders. The banner of Islam flies over the 99.9% of the Middle East land mass for the last 1500 years. Are you saying that that is God’s divine plan as well?

  25. You would have to explain why some states insist on teach the biblical creation as fact and not evolution? Some of evolution is still theory, but there are thousands of pieces of real evidence that lean toward evolution and not the six day creation.

  26. Yes, there are a number of sources that confirm the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek by pre-Christian era Jewish sources for the benefit of their Hebrew illiterate brethren. The Wikipedia article link I provided contains numbers of sources to check as well.

    Another source where the new Testament authors might obtain information of Mary’s virginity is also Joseph, who considered not marrying her when he learned of her pregnancy and certainly he was not the father. However, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream stating that it was OK for him to take her as his wife since child was “conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” The angel fuhrer related, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Anyway, the precise details of who told others Mary was a Virgin when she conceived Jesus are not known, it is logical to expect it would have to have been Mary or Joseph least for it to become part of the New Testament account.

    As far as the rest of it, it is a far greater miracle to purport Christianity arose as you say. Logically, Christianity should have died out before the first century. Only miracles would allow it to survive, and so there it is, the Virgin Birth, Jesus healing the sick lame and crazy and then resurrecting from the dead giving credence to his message as why it should be believed over the other numerous doctrines and religions of the time. Modern miracles still happen, attesting to the continual Power of God through Jesus.

  27. Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. Its text is heavily corrected.

    “Codex Sinaiticus was “discovered” at the St Catherine monastery at the base of Mt Sinai in Egypt in the 1840s and 1850s. Dating from circa 325-360 CE, it is not known where it was scribed – perhaps Rome or Egypt. It is made from parchment of animal hides, with text on both sides of the page, written in continuous Greek script.”

    If you have any contradictory evidence, please post it.

  28. You can read more about the Codex Sinaiticus here:
    (when using Wikipedia, look at their references as well as the talk page)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex_Sinaiticus, it is one of the four great uncial codices, ancient, handwritten copies of the Greek Bible.

    The International Bible Society uses the Codex Sinaiticus, making particular mention of it:
    “Scholars began to see the true value of particular New Testament manuscripts starting in the mid-1800s. The Codex Sinaiticus was discovered at Saint Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula in 1844. Scholars began to compare this codex with other manuscripts, like the already known Codex Vaticanus, both of which were written down in the 300s AD.”

    For new editions, Bible translators using all the manuscripts currently available insure the material is complete as and as accurate possible.
    Where earlier manuscripts do not have a verse , the New International Version Bible, for example, will place it in the footnotes IE
    Matthew 6:13 Or from evil; some late manuscripts one, / for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

  29. The stories are all fantasy and fiction built upon earlier fantasy and fiction. And I love a good fiction! But lets call it what it is.

  30. One way to determine fiction from truth is whether or not people at the time, to include the originators of the story, believed it. They certainly acted like they believed it. At the expense of their own lives. At the expense of religions around them which were well established for many years if not centuries . Christianity, without weapons or political power, became the ascendant religion in the Roman Empire. A mystery when not considering miracles. A mystery if trying to explain it in the terms of a made up story, since why should the Christian story be any more compelling than anyone else’s?

    The religions of Judaism, Buddhism and Islam had their major founder live to their 80’s or more, carefully shepherding their followers, conquering or setting up secure monasteries. leave out the miracles and there is no reason for Christianity to survive much past the death of Jesus, who only had a 3 year public ministry.

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