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Pope Francis, On Christmas Eve Mass, Rails Against Injustice Of War, Says Level Of Greed And Hunger For Power Makes Some Want To ‘Consume Even Their Neighbours’

Pope Francis has spoken of the injustice of war and denounced ‘a world ravenous for money, power and pleasure’  after arriving to the Holy Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in his wheelchair on Saturday night.

Francis, celebrating his 10th Christmas as Pope, presided over the solemn Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with a capacity crowd of about 7,000 following several years of restricted attendance because of Covid.

About 4,000 other people participated outside in St. Peter’s Square on a relatively warm night.

The congregation was warned Pope Francis is unable to stand for extended periods of time throughout the service owing to pain in his knees.

The Pope has indicated he will dedicate his Christmas Day message this year to the people of Ukraine and all people going through hardship as a result of war.

He said in a sermon during the service: ‘I think above all of the children devoured by war, poverty and injustice.’

Pope Francis arrived to the Holy Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in a wheelchair on Saturday night

Pope Francis arrived to the Holy Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in a wheelchair on Saturday night

Sitting to the side of the altar for most of the Mass, he wove his homily around the theme of greed and consumption on various levels, asking people to look beyond the consumerism that has ‘packaged’ the feast, rediscover its meaning, and remember those suffering from war and poverty.

‘Men and women in our world, in their hunger for wealth and power, consume even their neighbours, their brothers and sisters,’ he said.

‘How many wars have we seen! And in how many places, even today, are human dignity and freedom treated with contempt!’

Since Russia invaded its neighbour in February, Francis has spoken out against the war at nearly every public event, denouncing what he has called atrocities and unprovoked aggression.

He did not specifically mention Ukraine on Saturday night.

‘As always, the principal victims of this human greed are the weak and the vulnerable,’ he said, denouncing ‘a world ravenous for money, power and pleasure’.

‘I think above all of the children devoured by war, poverty and injustice,’ also mentioning ‘unborn, poor and forgotten children’.

The Pope has indicated he will dedicate his Christmas message this year to the people of Ukraine and all people going through hardship as a result of war

The Pope has indicated he will dedicate his Christmas message this year to the people of Ukraine and all people going through hardship as a result of war

Drawing a parallel between the infant Jesus born in a manger and the poverty of today, the Pope said: ‘In the manger of rejection and discomfort, God makes himself present. He comes there because there we see the problem of our humanity: the indifference produced by the greedy rush to possess and consume.’

Earlier this month, the pope urged people to spend less on Christmas celebrations and gifts and send the difference to Ukrainians to help them get through the winter.

The Pope marked his 86th birthday last week and, apart from his knee ailment, appears to be in overall good health.

On Sunday, he is due to deliver his ‘Urbi et Orbi’ (to the city and the world) blessing and message from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to tens of thousands of people in the square below.

Earlier this week, Pope Francis also spoke of Ukraine’s plight in his annual Christmas greeting to Officials of the Roman Curia.

He said: ‘War and violence are always a catastrophe. Religion must not lend itself to fuelling conflicts. The Gospel is always a Gospel of peace, and in the name of no God can one declare a war to be ”holy”.

‘Wherever death, division, conflict, and innocent suffering reign, there we can recognize only the crucified Jesus. The culture of peace is not built up solely between peoples and nations. It begins in the heart of every one of us.’ 

‘Anguished as we are by the spread of wars and violence, we can and must make our own contribution to peace by striving to uproot from our hearts all hatred and resentment towards the brothers and sisters with whom we live.’ 

It comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky revealed on Saturday Russian shelling had left 10 dead and 55 injured in Kherson city. 

On the day marking 10 months since the start of the Russian invasion, shells rained around a busy market and started a fire in the southern port city which Kyiv’s forces recaptured in November. 

Despite Russia’s retreat from the city, Kherson remains within reach of Moscow’s weaponry and under constant threat.

Zelensky on Telegram called the attack ‘terror… killing for the sake of intimidation and pleasure’.

‘It is the real life of Ukraine… The world must see and understand what absolute evil we are fighting against,’ he said.

The Pope has indicated he will dedicate his Christmas message this year to the people of Ukraine and all people going through hardship as a result of war

The Pope has indicated he will dedicate his Christmas message this year to the people of Ukraine and all people going through hardship as a result of war

In an address to the nation to mark Christmas Eve, Zelensky urged his compatriots to persevere through a tough winter despite the absence of dead or exiled loved ones, power cuts, destruction and the threat of shelling.

‘Tears will be replaced by joy, despair will be followed by hope, and death will be conquered by life,’ he said.

‘We will celebrate our holidays! As always. We will smile and be happy. As always. The difference is one: we will not wait for a miracle, because we create it ourselves.’

The Pope first stepped out in a wheelchair in May this year after revealing he’d been having ongoing knee problems.

Recently he has opted to use a cane during public appearances, but resorted to the wheelchair again for the Christmas Eve service.

It comes after the Pope, who turned 86 this month, revealed he submitted a resignation letter that would take effect should illness prevent him from fulfilling his duties.

The letter was submitted in 2013, soon after he was elected.

In his 2021 address, the Pope prayed for an end to the Covid pandemic, using his Christmas Day address to urge health care for all, vaccines for the poor and for dialogue to prevail in resolving the world’s conflicts.

Daily Mail (UK)

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