Migrants fleeing injustice being met with ‘walls of indifference’, Pope Francis warns in Christmas message

Pope addressed tens of thousands of people for annual tradition 

Eleanor Busby
Wednesday 25 December 2019 19:49 GMT
Pope Francis delivers the Urbi et Orbi blessing

The Pope has warned that migrants fleeing injustice in the hope of finding a better life are being met with “walls of indifference” in his Christmas Day message.

Pope Francis offered a message of hope against the darkness “in human hearts” and in conflicts in large parts of the world, from the Middle East to the Americas to Africa.

In his annual Christmas Day message, the Pope called for an easing of the crisis in Lebanon, social tensions in Iraq and the “grave humanitarian crisis” in Yemen.

Addressing tens of thousands of people gathered in St Peter’s Square, he noted that migrants around the world have been forced by injustice “to emigrate in the hope of a secure life”.

Instead of finding acceptance, migrants often face abuse, enslavement and torture in “inhumane detention camps” and death during their journeys, he said.

And once they arrive in “places where they might have hoped for a dignified life” they “instead find themselves before walls of indifference”, the Pope warned.

In an extraordinary message, Pope Francis, along with two other religious leaders, urged the rival chiefs of South Sudan to maintain a pledge to form a coalition government early next year.

A peace deal to end a five-year civil war that has killed close to 400,000 people was signed last year, but a November deadline to form a coalition government was extended to February as key aspects of the peace deal still need to be resolved.

The message, issued separately from the traditional papal Christmas address, was also signed by the leader of the Church of England, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and the Rev John Chalmers, ex-moderator of the Church of Scotland.

Mr Welby used his Christmas Day sermon to reflect on the maltreatment of society’s most vulnerable, as well as the impact of violence at home and abroad, including the London Bridge terror attack last month.

He told worshippers at Canterbury Cathedral that darkness is a “monster that lies” before referring to the killings of 25-year-old Jack Merritt and 23-year-old Saskia Jones by Usman Khan.

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