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On Christmas, Pope Urges People to Remember Those Suffering

26 Dec 2014 – By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The crying of Baby Jesus is not the only cry people should hear on Christmas; many children around the world are crying because of war, maltreatment and abuse, Pope Francis said.

“Baby Jesus,” he said on 25 December, pausing for effect. “My thoughts today go to all children who are abused and mistreated: those killed before they are born; those deprived of the generous love of their parents who are buried under the selfishness of a culture that does not love life; those children displaced by war and persecution, abused and exploited under our eyes and the silence that makes us accomplices.”

Before giving his solemn Christmas blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world), Pope Francis addressed an estimated 80,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, urging them to pray for peace in Ukraine, in the Middle East, Nigeria, Libya, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Congo.

With thousands of children looking at the Vatican’s Nativity scene and receiving the pope’s blessing with their parents Christmas morning, Pope Francis’ strongest words were about less-fortunate children.

“May Jesus save the vast numbers of children who are victims of violence, made objects of trade and trafficking or forced to become soldiers,” he said. He added special prayers for the families of the dozens of children killed on 16 December by a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan.

“There are so many tears this Christmas, together with the tears of the infant Jesus,” he said. Children are dying “under bombardment, even there where the son of God was born. Today their silence cries out under the sword of so many Herods,” those who kill children just as Herod did in Jesus’ time.

The pope prayed that Christ’s “divine power, by its meekness,” would “take away the hardness of heart of so many men and women immersed in worldliness and indifference. May his redeeming strength transform arms into ploughshares, destruction into creativity, hatred into love and tenderness.”

In the dark of the night of 24 December, in a St. Peter’s Basilica filled to capacity, 10 children led Pope Francis toward the altar of the church. Together they stood waiting while a lector read the solemn “Christmas proclamation,” recounting the timing of the birth of Christ in human history.

As the children from the Philippines, South Korea, Belgium, Italy, Lebanon and Syria looked on, Pope Francis removed the cloth that had been covering a statue of Baby Jesus. He bent over and kissed it gently.

In this homily, the pope said Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet, “announces the rising of a great light which breaks through the night. This light is born in Bethlehem and is welcomed by the loving arms of Mary, by the love of Joseph, by the wonder of the shepherds.”

The birth of the Son of God in a lowly manger is the sign of “the humility of God taken to the extreme; it is the love with which, that night, he assumed our frailty, our suffering, our anxieties, our desires and our limitations.”





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