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World Pope Francis lists the world crises from the obscure to the existential, saying 2020 is off to a rough start

15:50  09 january  2020
15:50  09 january  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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  Disgruntled Pope Francis pulls himself free from woman's grasp A visibly indignant Pope Francis had to pull himself away from a woman in a crowd in St Peter's Square on Tuesday after she grabbed his hand and yanked him toward her. © Reuters/YARA NARDI Pope Francis leads the Vespers and Te Deum prayer in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Pope Francis was walking through the square in Vatican City and greeting pilgrims on his way to see the large Nativity scene set up in the huge, cobbled esplanade.After reaching out to touch a child, the pope turned away from the crowd only for a nearby woman to seize his hand and pull her toward him.

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ROME —Pope Francis on Thursday greeted the Vatican's diplomatic corps, spoke generally about the hope that comes with any new year, and then got straight to the daunting point.

Pope Francis poses with diplomats accredited to the Holy See at the end of the traditional exchange of the New Year greetings, in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, Jan. 9, 2020.© Remo Casilli/Reuters Pope Francis poses with diplomats accredited to the Holy See at the end of the traditional exchange of the New Year greetings, in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, Jan. 9, 2020.

“The new year,” Francis said, “does not seem to be marked by encouraging signs.”

While saying that maintaining hope was essential, the pope spent the next 45 minutes talking about wars and could-be wars, exploitation, sexual abuse, Internet hate speech, international indifference to humanitarian crises, and the depressing state of the world’s fight against climate change.

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He called heightened tensions between the United States and Iran “particularly troubling,” but it amounted to one quick reference on a laundry list of flash points, both major and obscure, from Burkina Faso to Venezuela to Australia.

“Certainly, hope has to be realistic,” Francis said. “It demands acknowledging the many troubling issues confronting our world and the challenges lurking on the horizon. It requires that problems be called by their name and the courage be found to resolve them.”

Francis’s annual speech, delivered in a frescoed Vatican hall, tends to serve as a guidebook for the pope’s worldview, making clear what issues he thinks are most important. In his seventh year as leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Francis’s own reputation has been bruised by the institution’s struggles in combating sexual abuse.

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  Pope Francis apologizes after smacking hand of woman who had pulled him toward her As Francis greeted a New Year’s Eve crowd, a woman caught him by surprise, grabbing his hand and pulling him toward her. The startled pope smacked her hand to break free.ROME —Pope Francis was making his way through a New Year’s Eve crowd in St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday, smiling and clutching hands with well-wishers. But then, just as Francis was turning away, a woman caught him by surprise — and got a glimpse of an aggravated pope.

Francis issued his toughest condemnation to date of the weapons industry at a rally of thousands of young people at the end of the first day of his trip to the Italian city of Turin. Francis also built on comments he has made in the past about events during the first and second world wars.

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Meantime he has sometimes felt like a lonely voice among world leaders, making a case about the responsibility to care for migrants and about the urgent dangers posed by global warming.

Speaking about the U.S.-Iran tensions, the pontiff urged dialogue and worried about how recent developments might “compromising the gradual process of rebuilding in Iraq.”

He said that the tensions, which have diminished slightly this week after both countries stepped back from escalation, could set off a “vaster conflict that all of us would want to avert.”

Pope Francis standing in front of a building: Pope Francis addresses diplomats accredited to the Holy See during an audience for the traditional exchange of New Year greetings, in the Sala Regia state hall at the Vatican, Jan. 9, 2020.© Remo Casilli/Reuters Pope Francis addresses diplomats accredited to the Holy See during an audience for the traditional exchange of New Year greetings, in the Sala Regia state hall at the Vatican, Jan. 9, 2020.

In his speech, Francis talked about the church’s abuse crisis, saying that the Vatican was committed to reforms, while calling abuse a crime that damages victims physically and psychologically.

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Pope Francis is firmly among the most liberal, global and politically relevant Holy Fathers in modern history. And for some Catholics, that 's become a problem.

Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has authorized the beatification of 1,220 people. The names listed below are from the Vatican website and are listed by year, then date.

But Francis spoke about youth in general at much greater length than he spoke about abuse, describing how young people look to adults for an examples but also “have much to offer” themselves. He then lauded the increasingly forceful role of young people in bringing attention to climate change — and protesting the inaction of politicians.

“The protection of the home given to us by the Creator cannot be neglected or reduced to an elitist concern,” Francis said. “Young people are telling us that this cannot be the case.”

The pope called last month’s United Nations climate conference, which ended with finger-pointing and no meaningful breakthroughs, a dispiriting sign about the willingness of leaders to take significant steps.

“The response to the problems raised by global issues such as climate change remains very weak and a source of grave concern,” Francis said.

Francis said that a more robust international response was “most urgent” in the Middle East and in the Mediterranean, the deadliest area in the world for migrants. The pope said that the humanitarian crisis in Yemen was being met by “general indifference,” and he said a “pall of silence” risks falling over Syria, where war has been waged for years. Francis also highlighted the “intensification of violence” in Libya, and the way in which the country had become a fertile terrain for the extortion of migrants, who are commonly subjected to sexual violence and torture.

Francis said that “many thousands of people in our world present legitimate requests for asylum, and have verifiable humanitarian needs and a need for protection that are not adequately identified.”

“Many are risking their lives in perilous journeys by land and above all by sea,” the pope said. “It is painful to acknowledge that the Mediterranean Sea continues to be a vast cemetery. Consequently, it is increasingly urgent that all states accept responsibility for finding lasting solutions.”

chico.harlan@washpost.com

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