Source: Vatican Media/Christian Aid
During his Angelus address today, with pilgrims in St Peter's Square, a few hours before his historic visit to the United Arab Emirates, Pope Francis appealed for prayers for the children of Yemen, because they are "hungry, thirsty, are in danger of death." "The cry of these children and their parents rises to God," the Pope said.
Pope Francis highlighted "the humanitarian crisis in Yemen", where "the population is exhausted by the long conflict and many children suffer from hunger, but it is not possible to access food stores."
The UAE is a member of the Saudi-led coalition in the war against Yemen which broke out in March 2015. (The UK is the second largest supplier of arms to Saudi Arabia, after the US. From April 2015 - September 2016 the UK approved more than £3.3bn in military sales to the kingdom, according to CAAT)
The war pits the Houthi, supported by Teheran, against the Sunni leadership of the deposed president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, supported by Riyadh. Attempts at peace talks and truces have always failed. In the war, the Saudis have attacked humanitarian convoys trying to reach the port of Hudaydah. According to the UN, so far the death toll is over 10 thousand and at least 55 thousand have been injured. Some independent bodies place the death toll at over 50,000. Children are among the main victims, dying in the bombing or from very serious malnutrition. Recently UN experts have said that at least 14 million Yemenis are at risk of hunger.
Pope Francis said: "The cry of these children and their parents rises up to the presence of God. I appeal to the interested parties and the international community to urgently encourage compliance with the agreements reached, ensure the distribution of food and work for the good of the population. I invite everyone to pray for our brothers and sisters of Yemen. ".
Before the Hail Mary, Pope Francis said: "Let us pray earnestly, because they are children who are hungry, thirsty, they are in danger of death".
Previously, the Pope commented on the passage from today's Gospel (4 Sunday Year C, Luke, 4, 21-30), which tells of the angry nhabitants of Nazareth demanding that Jesus perform more miracles for them. "God wants faith, they want miracles; God wants to save everyone, and they want a Messiah to their advantage," he said.
"This Gospel shows us that the public ministry of Jesus begins with a rejection and with a threat of death, paradoxically on the part of his fellow citizens. Jesus, in living the mission entrusted to him by the Father, knows that he must face fatigue, rejection, persecution and defeat. A price that, yesterday like today, true prophecy is called to pay. This harsh rejection, however, does not discourage Jesus, nor does it stop the path and fruitfulness of his prophetic action. He goes on his way, trusting in the love of the Father.
"Even today, the world needs to see in the disciples of the Lord of the prophets, that is, of the courageous and persevering people in responding to the Christian vocation. People who follow the 'push' of the Holy Spirit, who sends them to proclaim hope and salvation to the poor and the excluded; people who follow the logic of faith and not of miraculousness; people dedicated to the service of all, without privileges and exclusions. In short: people who open themselves to accept in themselves the will of the Father and commit themselves to bear witness to it faithfully to others."
The Pope then recalled that Italy is celebrating the Day for Life, encouraging families and society to be more welcoming to children.. "to promote births" in ways that involve "the institutions and the various cultural and social realities, recognising the family as the generative womb of society."
He also greeted the Eastern world for the Lunar New Year, which is celebrated on Tuesday. "On February 5, in the Far East and in various parts of the world, millions of men and women will celebrate the lunar new year. I would like to greet everyone warmly, hoping that in their families those virtues are practiced that help us to live in peace with ourselves, with others and with creation. I invite you all to pray welcome and nurture the gift of peace."
Finally, Pope Francis greeted the children of the Catholic Action of the diocese of Rome who, at the end of a month dedicated to the theme of peace, visited him. A boy and a girl stood with the Pope at the window of his study, to read a message of peace before releasing balloons as "a symbol of our prayers for peace in world."
The Pope ended the Angelus by asking for prayers for his upcoming trip to Abu Dhabi. His departure from Rome was scheduled at 1pm local time.
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