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Pope says ‘our hearts are in Bethlehem’ as he presides over the Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s

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VATICAN CITY — Recalling Jesus’ beginning in a steady in Bethlehem, Pope Francis in a Christmas Eve homily mentioned that “the conflict of arms even at present” prevents Jesus “from discovering room on the earth.”

The pontiff presided Sunday over the night Mass attended by about 6,500 trustworthy who took their place amid the splendor of St. Peter’s Basilica behind rows of white-clad prelates.

“Our hearts are in Bethlehem, the place the Prince of Peace is as soon as extra rejected by the futile logic of warfare, ” the pope mentioned, referring to the warfare sparked by Hamas’ lethal Oct. 7 rampage and hostage-taking in Israel.

As Mass started, a statuette of the Christ youngster was unveiled earlier than the altar bedecked in greenery and white flowers, and youngsters representing all corners of the globe positioned flowers round a gilded throne.

Francis, draped in white robes, led the Mass standing on the foot of certainly one of St. Peter’s grand columns.

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Recalling that Jesus was born throughout a census meant to strengthen King David’s energy, Francis warned in opposition to “the hunt for worldly energy and would possibly, fame and glory, which measures all the pieces by way of success, outcomes, numbers and figures, a world obsessive about achievement.”

In contrast, Jesus entered the world humbly, taking human flesh. “Right here, we see not a god of wrath and chastisement, however the God of mercy, who takes flesh and enters the world in weak point,’’ the pope mentioned.

A pagan deity is linked to “energy, worldly success and idolatry of consumerism,” the pope mentioned. “God, alternatively, waves no magic need; he’s no god of commerce who guarantees all the pieces all of sudden. He doesn’t save us by pushing a button, however attracts close to us, in an effort to change our world from inside.”

When the Christmas Eve Mass ended, the pope, pushed in a wheelchair, moved down the basilica with the life-sized statue of Child Jesus on his lap and flanked by youngsters carrying bouquets. The statue was positioned in a manger in a nativity scene within the basilica.

Francis, 87, has been utilizing a wheelchair to navigate lengthy distances because of a painful knee ligament and a cane for shorter distances.

Throughout the conventional Angelus blessing overlooking St. Peter’s Sq. at noon, the pontiff remembered these affected by warfare, recalling particular combating in Ukraine and Israel’s bombardment and siege of the Gaza Strip in response to Hamas’ assault.

“We’re near our brothers and sisters affected by warfare. We consider Palestine, Israel, Ukraine. We additionally consider those that endure from distress, starvation, slavery,’’ Francis mentioned. “Could the God who took a human coronary heart for himself infuse humanity into the hearts of males,” he added.

Talking from the window of his studio to the 1000’s of trustworthy gathered in St. Peter’s Sq. for the Angelus prayer, the pontiff additionally invited the trustworthy “to not confuse celebration with consumerism. One can and, as a Christian, should have a good time in simplicity with out waste and by sharing with those that lack requirements or lack companionship.”

Historically, Catholics mark Christmas Eve by attending Mass at midnight. However through the years, the beginning time on the Vatican has crept earlier, reflecting the well being or stamina of popes after which the pandemic. The Vatican has saved a 7:30 p.m. time initially set throughout a pandemic curfew.

On Christmas Day, tens of 1000’s of Romans, vacationers and pilgrims have been anticipated to crowd into St. Peter’s Sq. to listen to Pope Francis ship an deal with on world points and provides his blessing. The speech, identified in Latin as “Urbi et Orbi” (to town and to the world), is historically an event to overview crises together with warfare, persecution and starvation, in lots of elements of the globe.

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