POPE Francis has called for world peace in his Christmas Day blessing, after hitting out at the ‘idolatry of money’.
The Pontiff addressed thousands of well-wishers from the balcony of St Peter’s Cathedral and spoke of the need to use love, rather than wealth, to heal the wounds of violence across the world.
Francis mentioned conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Nigeria and Colombia, but his most symbolic remarks came earlier during a Christmas Eve sermon at the Vatican.
There he lamented how Christmas had been ‘taken hostage’ by the forces of selfishness and materialism.
“If we want to celebrate Christmas authentically, we need to contemplate this sign: the fragile simplicity of a small newborn, the meekness of where he lies, the tender affection of the swaddling clothes. God is there,” he said.
Meanwhile at Canterbury Cathedral, the head of the Church of England, Justin Welby, spoke directly of the huge impact the year 2016 has had across the world.
“The end of 2016 finds us all in a different kind of world, one less predictable and certain, which feels more awash with fear and division,” he said, adding that “our values are in the wrong place.”