Pope Francis (flickr)
Pope Francis (flickr)

Pope Francis urged the United States and Iran, during Thursday’s annual “State of the World” address, to exercise restraint and pursue dialogue in order to prevent the conflict from escalating.

“Particularly troubling are the signals coming from the entire region following the heightening of tensions between Iran and the United States,” Francis said during his 50-minute speech in the Vatican’s frescoed Sala Regia.

The Pope stressed that the tensions are “compromising the gradual process of rebuilding in Iraq” and “setting the groundwork for a vaster conflict.”

“Our human family is scarred and wounded by a succession of increasingly destructive wars that especially affect the poor and those most vulnerable,” Francis said. “Sadly, the New Year does not seem to be marked by encouraging signs, as much as by heightened tensions and acts of violence.”

“I therefore renew my appeal that all the interested parties avoid an escalation of the conflict and keep alive the flame of dialogue and self-restraint, in full respect of international law,” he said.