Christmas Messages from World Leaders and the Controversy Surrounding the Holiday
In their Christmas speeches, world leaders spoke of past and difficult times ahead and sent messages of hope.
US President Joe Biden highlighted the "courage" and "resilience" of Americans in the nearly two-year coronavirus pandemic.
He praised all Americans who serve their country, noting that the similarities between Americans are "endless" and the differences "precious." In this time of joy, we are inspired by countless Americans who remind us that the things we consider sacred unite us and overcome the distance, time, and even limitations of the pandemic: faith, family, and friendship; love of the arts, teaching, and nature; gratitude, service and community; unity and peace," Biden said.
French President Emmanuel Macron used his Christmas message to greet the military.
"To our soldiers, sailors and pilots, to you who stand guard on Christmas Eve, engaged in activities for our protection - I want to send you this message. My thoughts and those of the nation are directed to you," he said.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II sent a very personal message in honor to her late husband, Prince Philip. This was her first Christmas address since his death.
"Christmas can be a difficult time for those who have lost loved ones. This year, I especially understand why," she said.
Elizabeth described Philip as her "lover" and said she sensed his presence during the holiday season.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his compatriots had made significant efforts to be together for Christmas and deserved to be able to reunite with their families, friends and loved ones before the New Year.
"This pandemic continues to hit us ... but together, always together and only together, we keep making our way forward," he said.
"Christmas is a time of hope, and we are optimistic people. I don't want a greater gift than the spirit that Australians show - a spirit of inspiration, endurance, caring and great courage," Morrison said.
South African Vice President David Mabuza, who addressed the presidency on Christmas Day, acknowledged that this year was another difficult time for the country due to the pandemic, but said life was slowly returning to normal.
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo said Christmas was a time of charity, love, humility and reconciliation.
Pope Francis called for dialogue, unity and peace. He noted that the world needs dialogue, especially in these times of pandemic, when unity and empathy are essential to overcoming the damage done to public relations.
Imagine what our world would be like without the patient dialogue of so many noble people trying to unite families and communities by preventing and resolving conflicts, Francis said in his traditional Christmas message "Urbi et orbi" (Towards the city and to world).
The celebration and commemoration of the Birth of Christ has become an occasion for controversy this year.
The European Commission has been accused of wanting to "repeal Christmas" by offering guidelines for using the term "holiday season" instead of Christmas in order not to affect people who do not identify as Christians. Following public outrage, Brussels withdrew the guidelines and said it would revise them.
And before the holiday, the Chief Mufti of Egypt took a stand on the dispute over the celebration of Christmas. The most important institution of Islamic law in the predominantly Muslim country said that Christmas can be celebrated because it is the day of the birth of the Prophet Jesus Christ.
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