Pope: May the killing of children touch the hearts of those who can stop war

Meeting some 70 boys and girls of the Italian Catholic Action Pope Francis turns his thoughts to the children suffering war in Gaza, Ukraine and Yemen and reminds them that the gift of God’s love at Christmas invites us to love Him, the others and also His creation.

By Lisa Zengarini

Only by loving God and loving each other “will the world find the light and peace it needs,” Pope Francis said on Friday as he met young members of the Italian Catholic Action (Azione Cattolica Ragazzi) for the exchange the Christmas greetings.

In his prepared remarks to the youths, accompanied by the President and the General Assistant, their leaders and educators, the Pope recalled the many peoples, especially children,  suffering war in the world.

Stopping the spiral of violence  that kills thousands of children 

He mentioned in particular the thousands of children who have died since the outbreak of the conflict in Gaza over two months ago, but also those killed in Ukraine after the Russian invasion, and in the years-long war in Yemen.

“Do you know how many children died in Gaza in this war? More than three thousand. It’s incredible, but it’s the reality. And in Ukraine there are more than five hundred, and in Yemen, in years of war, there are thousands.”

“Their memory – said the Pope – invites us to in turn be lights for the world, to touch the hearts of many people, especially those who can stop the spiral of violence.”

Loving God, the others and His creation

The “wonderful gift” of God’s love at Christmas invites us to love Him, but it also shows “that we too can love one another as brothers,” Pope Francis said.

He then drew attention to another love that ensues from God’s love: that for  His creation.

In this regard, he expressed his appreciation the slogan the Italian Catholic association has chosen this year, ‘This is Your Home!’:the theme “ helps you understand that God calls us to recognize and respect the beauty that surrounds us, in nature and in people, and thus to grow in sharing and brotherhood”, he said,  encouraging them follow this path with commitment, which is in itself a message of hope.

Concluding, Pope Francis exhorted the boys and girls of Azione Cattolica to heed God’s invitation by embracing “with their friendship and tenderness, heaven and earth.”