ROME - In his Christmas message to the city and to the world, Pope Francis had special thoughts for people forced to migrate due to injustices and for children who are abandoned and suffer violence. The pope also sent a special Christmas message to the leaders of South Sudan.
In his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” Christmas blessing and message from the central balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica, the pope said his thoughts went to the many areas of the world where there is “darkness due to economic, geopolitical and ecological conflicts but said the light of Christ is greater.
Pope Francis spoke of the many children suffering from war and conflicts in the Middle East and mentioned Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. He spoke of the people of Africa, “where persistent social and political situations often force individuals to migrate, depriving them of a home and family.
“It is injustice that makes them cross deserts and seas that become cemeteries," he said. "It is injustice that forces them to ensure unspeakable forms of abuse, enslavement of every kind and torture in inhumane detention camps.” And the pope added “it is injustice that turns them away from places where they might have hope for a dignified life, but instead find themselves before walls of indifference.”
Wednesday the pope also sent special wishes for peace and prosperity to the leaders of South Sudan. The joint Christmas message with Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby and the Reverend John Chalmers, former moderator of the Church of Scotland, assured South Sudanese leaders of their spiritual closeness as they strive for a swift implementation of the peace agreements reached for their country.
In his Christmas message, Pope Francis also had thoughts for the Venezuelan people, long beleaguered by their political and social tensions, and Ukraine, which yearns for concrete solutions for an enduring peace.
Last night at the start of Christmas Eve mass, the birth of Jesus Christ was announced to the congregation.
Pope Francis said: “The grace of God, bringing salvation to all, has shone on our world tonight.” He also had a message of unconditional love: “Christmas reminds us that God continues to love us all, even the worst of us.”
“You may have mistaken ideas, you may have made a complete mess of things, but the Lord continues to love you,” the pope said.
Pope Francis will again be appearing for the crowds in Saint Peter’s Square on Thursday and Sunday and then will celebrate Vespers and the Te Deum in Saint Peter’s Basilica in thanksgiving for the past year on December 31.