Rome (CNN): Pope Francis has urged the Catholic faithful to embrace the “light of Christ” to help end conflict and injustice around the world, during his Christmas Day address.
Speaking from the Vatican balcony under a clear blue sky on Wednesday, the Holy Father prayed for people struck by war, political instability, natural disasters and disease among other hardships in his annual “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message.
The 83-year-old pope listed several places — including Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Venezuela and Ukraine — while calling for peace.
“There is darkness in human hearts, yet the light of Christ is greater still,” the pope told the thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
“There is darkness in personal, family and social relationships, but the light of Christ is greater. There is darkness in economic, geopolitical and ecological conflicts, yet greater still is the light of Christ,” he added.
The Pope also singled out those persecuted for their Christian faith “particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.”
At least 35 civilians, most of them women, were killed in an attack by Islamic militants on Christmas Eve in Burkina Faso, several news outlets reported Wednesday citing local authorities.
In a speech that marked his seventh Christmas as pontiff, the Bishop of Rome also highlighted the plight of refugees and migrants.