ROME — Pope Francis once again failed to mention the genocide of Uyghur Muslims in China Saturday in his annual virtual tour of injustices around the world.
In his Christmas Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) message the pope gave a shout out to the people of Syria, “who for more than a decade have experienced a war that has resulted in many victims and an untold number of displaced persons.”
He drew attention to Iraq, “which still struggles to recover from a lengthy conflict,” and urged his hearers to “listen to the cry of children arising from Yemen, where an enormous tragedy, overlooked by everyone, has silently gone on for years, causing deaths every day.”
As he does every year, the pontiff also recalled “the continuing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians that drag on without a resolution, with ever more serious social and political consequences.”
Francis turned people’s gaze to “Bethlehem, the place of Jesus’ birth, which is experiencing hardship also from the economic repercussions of the pandemic, preventing pilgrims from visiting the Holy Land and adversely affecting the life of the people.”
He also spoke of Lebanon, “which is undergoing an unprecedented crisis, accompanied by very troubling economic and social conditions.”
In his address, the pope asked the child Jesus to “grant peace and concord to the Middle East and the whole world” and to “comfort the Afghan people, who for more than forty years have been sorely tested by conflicts that have driven many to leave the country.”
He begged God to “help political authorities bring peace to societies roiled by tension and conflict” and to sustain “the people of Myanmar, where intolerance and violence not infrequently target the Christian community and its places of worship, clouding the peaceful countenance of that people.”
He also asked divine assistance for the people of Ukraine to “prevent fresh outbreaks of a long-festering conflict.”
“Prince of Peace,” Francis pleaded, “help Ethiopia to find once again the path of reconciliation and peace through a forthright encounter that places the needs of the people above all else.”
“Listen to the plea of those living in the Sahel region, who experience the violence of international terrorism,” he asked, while also asking God to turn his gaze “to the peoples of the countries of North Africa, tormented by divisions, unemployment and economic inequality.”
“Alleviate the pain of our many brothers and sisters who suffer from internal conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan,” he asked.
Yet in this panoramic excursion to call attention to situations of injustice around the globe, the pope once again mysteriously avoided any mention of one of the most egregious examples of the trampling of human rights: the genocide of Uighur Muslims currently taking place in Xinjiang, China.
The pope has kept a sepulchral silence regarding the more than one million Uighur Muslims interned in a network of 85 Chinese concentration camps in the region of Xinjiang, where they are being systematically tortured, raped, enslaved, and forcibly sterilized.
Francis has not budged in the face of significant international criticism for his unwillingness to call out China for its grave human rights abuses, despite his practice of meticulously enumerating the sufferings of ethnic and religious groups around the world.
“As more and more nations have expressed their concern about the growing evidence of concentration camps and even genocide in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, there has been silence from the one entity that has the whole of suffering humanity at the core of its mission. I refer to the Holy See,” wrote Dominic Lawson in the Sunday Times.