On Christmas, pope prays for pandemic’s end, peace dialogues

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis has used his Christmas Day address to pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic. Amid a record-setting rise in COVID-19 cases in Italy this week, only a few thousand people flocked to a rain-soaked St. Peter’s Square for Francis’ annual “Urbi et Orbi” (“To the city and the world”) Christmas address on Saturday. Normally, the square would be packed with tens of thousands of holiday well-wishers. During his speech, Francis urged for there to be health care for all, vaccines for the poor and for dialogue to prevail in resolving the world’s conflicts. Last year, the pope delivered a televised address from inside the Apostolic Palace because of Italy’s nationwide lockdown.