Pope Expresses Support for “Dear People of Burundi”
In his greetings after his traditional Sunday prayer, the pope called on the people in Burundi to act responsibly for the good of the country.
The east African nation was plunged into deep crisis after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he was running for another five-year term, with clashes between police and protesters stirring memories of an ethnically driven civil war that ended a decade ago.
"I would also like to ask you to pray for the dear people of Burundi, which is going through a delicate moment. May the Lord help everyone to flee the violence and to act responsibly for the good of the country," the pope said.
Francis could be seen warmly embracing Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, with whom he held talks a day earlier on Saturday (May 16), as he wrapped up Sunday's service in the Vatican.
This past week, his office announced the first formal accord between the Vatican and the State of Palestine — a treaty that gives legal weight to the Holy See's long-standing recognition of de-facto Palestinian statehood despite clear Israeli annoyance.
After the inward-looking pontificate of his scholarly predecessor, Pope Benedict, Francis has in some ways returned to the active Vatican diplomacy practised by the globetrotting Pope John Paul II, widely credited for helping to end the Cold War.
Much of his effort has concentrated on improving relations between different faiths and protecting the embattled Middle East Christians, a clear priority for the Catholic Church.
However in an increasingly fractured geopolitical world, his diplomacy is less obviously aligned to one side in a global stand-off between competing blocs than that of John Paul's 27-year-long papacy.
This is reinforced by his status as the world's first pope from Latin America, a region whose turbulent history, widespread poverty and love-hate relationship with the United States has given him an entirely different political grounding from any of his European predecessors.
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