Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Burma, Ethiopia, Sudan, Sahel… Pope Francis delivered his traditional Christmas message, Saturday, December 25, to his traditional overview of the world’s conflicts, followed by the blessing urbi et orbi (« to the city and to the world »).
The pope called for « dialogue » in front of the « Temptation to withdraw into oneself » and insisted on conflicts « Forgotten », especially in Syria and Yemen, as well as on the economic and social consequences of the health crisis, for this second Christmas in times of Covid-19.
“In these times of pandemic, (…) our ability to maintain social relations is severely tested, the tendency is reinforced to withdraw into oneself, to go it alone ”, including » at an international level « , declared the Sovereign Pontiff in front of the faithful gathered in the rain on Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican.
« We still see a lot of conflicts, crises and contradictions that never seem to end and we hardly notice them anymore », so much « We are used to it », with the « Risk not hearing the cry of pain and despair of so many of our brothers and sisters », he regretted.
The 85-year-old pope especially insisted on « Immense tragedies » and « Forgotten » that are played out in Syria and Yemen, beset by conflicts that have « Many victims and countless refugees ». « We hear the cry of children rising from Yemen where a terrible tragedy, forgotten by everyone, has been unfolding in silence for years, killing people every day », he said. François also called for « Do not let the metastases of a gangrenous conflict spread » in Ukraine, where tensions between Kiev and Moscow raise fears of a military escalation.
« Forgotten by the peripheries »
Friday evening, during the traditional Christmas night mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Pope made a plea for humility. Some 2,000 people, according to the Vatican press room, attended the celebration, masked and seated at a distance from each other.
Ambassadors and representatives of other Christian denominations also attended the ceremony, celebrated in several languages in the presence of more than 200 priests, bishops and cardinals, also masked. A few dozen people who had not obtained a ticket followed the mass outside, on St. Peter’s Square, thanks to giant screens.
In his homily, the 85-year-old Argentine pontiff invited the faithful to « Love modesty » and to « Rediscover the little things in life », insisting on the reversal of hierarchies. Calling the Church to be « Poor and fraternal », Jorge Mario Bergoglio again warned against « Indifference » in the face of poverty. “Jesus, at his birth, is surrounded by little ones, the poor (…), those forgotten in the peripheries, where human dignity is put to the test ”, he stressed.
Second Christmas mass in times of Covid-19
“Let us leave behind the regrets of this greatness that we do not have. Let’s give up the complaints, the sad faces and the greed that leaves us dissatisfied ”, launched François under the canopy designed by Le Bernin. Jorge Mario Bergoglio also added:
“God sets out in search of shepherds, of the invisible; we are looking for visibility. Jesus is born to serve, and we spend our time chasing success. God does not seek strength and power, he asks for tenderness and interior modesty. «
The Pope again called for « To give dignity to the work of man, because man is a lord and not a slave to work ». “No more deaths at work! And let’s commit to that ”, he said.
This is the second Christmas mass in time of Covid-19. As of 2020, only 200 people – mostly employees of the tiny Vatican state – were able to attend mass due to the restrictions.
On Thursday, the Pope had already called on the Roman curia to show« Humility » and of « Sobriety » and run away from «Mondanité» and the« Pride » during his traditional Christmas greetings.