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Pope Francis delivers his annual Angelus prayer at a lectern in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace
Pope Francis delivers his annual Angelus prayer at a lectern in the Vatican's Apostolic PalaceImage: VATICAN MEDIA/ANSA/picture alliance
ReligionEurope

Pope toughs out nerve pain to make New Year empathy plea

January 1, 2021

Pushing through sciatica pain, Pope Francis preached the importance of "taking interest in others' problems" in the wake of a year defined by the COVID-19 pandemic.

https://p.dw.com/p/3nRBf

Pope Francis delivered a message of empathy during his traditional Angelus blessing on Friday, pushing through against nerve pain that caused him to miss other New Year's ceremonies.

Standing at a lectern in the library of the Apostolic Palace, Francis wished his faithful viewers via video "a year of peace, a year of hope." 

The pope did not preside over the New Year's Eve prayer service nor the New Year's Day Mass in St. Peter's Basilica due to "painful sciatica." Francis has previously spoken of his sciatica, a form of lower back pain caused by compression of the sciatic nerve.

Just like his Urbi et Orbi message on Christmas Day, the Angelus blessing was moved from the pope's usual perch overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican to prevent people from gathering amid Italy's strict coronavirus restrictions.

What did Pope Francis say?

After a year defined by the coronavirus outbreak, the pope preached the importance of burden-sharing around the world.

"The painful events that marked humanity's journey last year, especially the pandemic, taught us how much it is necessary to take an interest in the problems of others and to share their concerns," he said.

"Life today is governed by war, by enmity, by many things that are destructive. We want peace. It is a gift."

Francis reiterated his concern for people in Yemen, which is in the midst of a six-year civil war between government forces and Houthi rebels.

"I express my sorrow and concern for the further escalation of violence in Yemen, which is causing numerous innocent victims," the pope said. "Let us think of the children of Yemen, without education, without medicine, famished."

dv/rc (AP, Reuters)

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