Speaking after inaugurating the ‘Candles for Peace in Syria’ Campaign, in which Pope Francis’s candle was decorated by craftsman from the Old City of Damascus, the Pope said: “Advent is a time for hope. At this time, I would like to make my own the hope of peace of the children of Syria.

“May these flames of hope dispel the darkness of war. Let us pray and help Christians to remain in Syria and the Middle East as witnesses of mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation. May the flame of hope also reach all those who are suffering in these days from conflicts and tensions in various other parts of the world, near and far.”  

Advent is a time of vigilance

In his Angelus address last Sunday, the Pope said: “Advent invites us to a commitment of vigilance, looking outside of ourselves, widening our mind and heart to open ourselves to the needs of people, of brothers, and to the desire of a new world. It’s the desire of so many people, martyred by hunger, injustice [and] war. It’s the desire of the poor, of the weak, of the abandoned. This time is opportune to open our heart, to ask ourselves concrete questions on how and for whom we spend our life.”     

Drug use is gravely harmful

During an audience with participants in an international conference entitled ‘Drugs and addiction: an obstacle to integral human development’, the Pope said: “Drug use is gravely harmful to health, human life and society. All of us are called to combat the production, processing and distribution of drugs worldwide. It is the duty and responsibility of governments to courageously undertake this fight against those who deal in death.

“An area of increasing risk is virtual space; on some internet sites, young people, and not only the young, are lured into a bondage hard to escape, leading to a loss of life’s meaning and, at times, even of life itself.

“Faced with this disturbing scenario, the Church senses the urgent need to create in today’s world a form of humanism capable of restoring the human person to the centre of social, economic and cultural life: a humanism grounded in the ‘Gospel of Mercy’.

“There, the disciples of Jesus find the inspiration for a pastoral action that can prove truly effective in alleviating, caring for and healing the immense suffering associated with different kinds of addiction present in our world.

“In a throwaway society, God discards no one; for Him no one is irredeemable.”         

(Compiled by Fr Joe Borg)

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