Christmas: Christmas mass: Pope denounces wars and materialism

Christmas: Christmas mass: Pope denounces wars and materialism

Christmas mass: Pope denounces wars and materialism

Pope Francis arrives at St. Peter's Basilica to lead the Christmas Eve Mass.  Photo: Gregorio Borgia/AP/dpa

Pope Francis arrives at St. Peter’s Basilica to lead the Christmas Eve Mass. photo

© Gregorio Borgia/AP/dpa

After two years, Pope Francis celebrates Christmas mass again in a full St. Peter’s Basilica. In the Holy Land, too, people are celebrating like they were before the pandemic.

Under the impact of wars and conflicts in the world Pope Francis This year’s Christmas celebrations opened at Christmas mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. The head of the Catholics castigated the bloody clashes – the war in Ukraine in particular caused horror in 2022.

At the same time, the pontifex solicited Christmas not chasing after material things, but caring about charity. In the Holy Land, Christians from all over the world celebrated the traditional Christmas procession from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.

After the corona pandemic only allowed limited church services in the Vatican at Christmas 2020 and 2021, the St. Peter’s Basilica full again this time on Christmas Eve. According to the Holy See, around 7,000 believers were in the basilica, and around 3,000 people also followed the mass outside in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope: Trampling dignity and liberty

The Pope used the sermon to condemn wars: “People who are hungry for power and money consume even their neighbors, their brothers and sisters in the world. How many wars there are! And in how many places even today dignity and freedom are trampled underfoot kicked!” The Ukraine– He did not name war directly in his sermon.

Francis called the weak and poor the “main sufferers of human greed”. The 86-year-old, who followed the service largely sitting next to the altar because of his knee pain, said: “This Christmas, too, a humanity that insatiably strives for money, power and pleasure makes no room for the little ones, for the many unborn, poor people , forgotten people, as was the case with Jesus. I am thinking especially of the children who are being swallowed up by war, poverty and injustice.”

Jesus was born without luxury and comfort – but as a result “the true richness of life came to light”, namely interpersonal relationships, as Francis emphasized. “Of course it is not easy to leave the pleasant warmth of worldliness to embrace the austere beauty of the Grotto of Bethlehem,” he preached. “But we should remember that without the poor there is no real Christmas. Christmas is celebrated without them, but not the Christmas of Jesus.”

Christmas procession after Bethlehem

The traditional Christmas procession had already led as a wagon convoy from Jerusalem to Bethlehem on Saturday afternoon. The head of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, walked the last part of the way to Manger Square in Bethlehem. There he was received by Christian representatives.

Unlike in the past two Corona years, tens of thousands of visitors are expected over the Christmas holidays. Israel’s Ministry of Tourism is prepared for around 120,000 pilgrims.

In their Christmas message, the representatives of various churches in the Holy Land complained about an increase in attacks on Christians and discrimination. Young Christians no longer felt welcome in the land of their ancestors, and many of them left the region, it said. Therefore, the proportion of Christians has continued to fall.

Of around five million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, less than two percent are Christians. According to the most recent information from the Israeli Bureau of Statistics, around 185,000 Arab Christians live in Israel, making up around 1.9 percent of the population. Israel has around 9.6 million inhabitants, three quarters of them Jews.


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