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Pomp, politics & prayers as world leaders offer their Christmas wisdom

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Pomp, politics & prayers as world leaders offer their Christmas wisdom
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World leaders and other public figures have joined Queen Elizabeth II in putting out their messages of goodwill this Christmas Day.

While the British monarch's words of wisdom were broadcast by the BBC, others published directly to social media.

The Queen said the last year had been "bumpy", hinting at her country's divisions and parliamentary deadlock over Brexit.

Spain's King Felipe VI, in just his fifth Christmas broadcast [in Spanish], spoke about "the deterioration of citizens' trust in institutions".

He spoke of "times of great uncertainty, of deep and rapid changes" causing "concern and restlessness" inside and outside of Spain. Nevertheless, he only used the word Catalonia once in his speech.

Elsewhere, ex-president Evo Morales made his Christmas message after vowing to return to Bolivia by this time next year.

Morales resigned after riots broke out over a disputed presidential election in October.

"From Argentina, we are coordinating with social movements to recover democracy in our beloved Bolivia," he tweeted.

In Israel, people are not only celebrating Christmas but also the festival of Hanukkah. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will face one of his biggest political challenges on Thursday when his party vote to decide who will lead it in the next election.

"The state of Israel would have not come into being if it weren't for the avid support of Christians in the 19th century and the 20th century as well," Netanyahu said in his Christmas message. "We know that we have no better friends around the world than our Christian friends."

Under-pressure Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's Chief Executive, wished citizens a "safe, happy and peaceful Christmas" despite ongoing anti-government protests in the semi-autonomous territory.

"Christmas is a time for everyone to celebrate. I wish everyone in HK to have a safe, happy and peaceful Christmas," she said in a message posted on Facebook.

#聖誕快樂 #林鄭月娥 #CarrieLam

Publiée par 林鄭月娥 Carrie Lam sur Mardi 24 décembre 2019
"Christmas is a time for everyone to celebrate. I wish everyone in HK to have a safe, happy and peaceful Christmas."

Pope Francisspoke out against violence, war and conflict in a speech at the Vatican.

"There is darkness in human hearts but the light of Christ is greater... there is darkness in economic, geopolitical and ecological conflicts, but greater still is the light of Christ," Francis said.

In an allusion that had been widely interpreted as referring to church scandals — in particular, related to sexual abuse — the Pope said that God loves "even the worst of us".

He said that people should not wait for the "Church to be perfect" to "love her".

In a funny message posted to Twitter recalling the film Love Actually, MEP Terry Reintke wrote a message of hope for "UK friends".

"By next year (as it looks now) you will have left us... but for now let me say without hope or agenda, just because it's Christmas (and on Christmas, you tell the truth), I still love you."

Back in the UK, it wasn't just Queen Elizabeth II who was putting Christmas messages out.

Newly elected Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent a Christmas message making clear that his administration will "defend your right to practice your faith".

Meanwhile, a Christmas card from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who are in Canada for December 25 — was shared on Twitter featuring their son Archie in the foreground.

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