Pope Francis celebrated Christmas Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. He called on people not to forget the importance of Christmas and especially to help the poor and vulnerable.
St. Peter’s Basilica filled with 7,000 people on Christmas Eve – that hasn’t happened in three years. For the first time since the corona pandemic, there were also no restrictions on St. Peter’s Square in front of it. According to the police, more than 3,000 believers and tourists watched the traditionally largest Christmas mass in Europe on the large screens there.
Children as the main victims of wars in the world
Pope Francis came to St. Peter’s Basilica in a wheelchair because of his persistent knee problems and led the mass largely sitting down. In his sermon, he warned us not to forget the importance of Christmas. Francis urgently recalled the wars in the world at the moment and denounced that dignity and freedom were being trampled on in many places.
The main sufferers are the weak. The Pope emphasized that he thinks of the children above all at Christmas – Jesus as a newborn in the manger is a symbol of exclusion and rejection. “In him, the Child of Bethlehem, every child is represented. And it invites us to look at life, politics, and history through the eyes of children.”
“God does not want appearances, but concrete things”
The nativity scene, Francis emphasized, referring to the Gospel story of Christmas, is a message against indifference. An indifference born of an insatiable desire to possess and consume. The church, on the other hand, is called to serve the poor.
On these feast days, Francis said, it is about living out the Christian virtue of charity, about helping the poor and the weak. “God does not want appearances, but concrete things. Let’s not let this Christmas go by without doing something good.”
Not gifts of appearances, but gifts of concrete support, emphasized the Pope. “At Christmas, God is concrete. In his name, let’s restore a little hope to those who have lost hope!”
Call for donations for Ukraine
In his last general audience before the holidays, Francis was even more specific and called for the money saved on gifts to be donated to the victims of the war in Ukraine. The Pope’s appeal during Christmas mass in St. Peter’s Basilica: “Brothers, sisters, God is poor at Christmas: May charity blossom again!” Proximity, poverty, and concreteness, the Pope explained in his homily, are central to the meaning of Christmas.
On Sunday afternoon, Pope Francis will deliver the traditional Christmas speech from the central loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica. Then, for the tenth time in his term of office, he gives the blessing “Urbi et Orbi” at Christmas. According to the Catholic faith, believers who follow this live on St. Peter’s Square, via radio, television or the Internet are freed from sins under certain conditions. In the last year before the pandemic, over 50,000 people came to St. Peter’s Square for the Pope’s blessing and Christmas message.