The Vatican

Pope turns his gaze to the most vulnerable at the Angelus on Christmas Day

"Let us return to Bethlehem," the Pope emphasized in his Angelus address on a special Sunday in which the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ. A return to Bethlehem means turning our gaze to those who suffer most today.

Maria José Atienza-December 25, 2022-Reading time: 3 minutes
pope angelus christmas

A sunny morning accompanied the Pope's Angelus on this Christmas Sunday. From the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis addressed the faithful, encouraging them to overcome "the lethargy of spiritual sleep and the false images of the feast that make us forget who is being honored. An address marked by the memory of the lack of peace in the world and those nations struck by war.

"Let us return to Bethlehem, where the first sound of the Prince of Peace resounds. Yes, because he himself, Jesus, is our peace; that peace which the world cannot give and which God the Father gave to humanity by sending his Son," the Holy Father continued.

Francis wanted to recall that following the path of peace marked out by Jesus presupposes abandoning the burdens of "attachment to power and money, pride, hypocrisy and lies. These burdens make it impossible to go to Bethlehem, exclude us from the grace of Christmas and close off access to the way of peace. And, in fact, we must note with sorrow that, at the same time that the Prince of peace is given to us, harsh winds of war continue to blow over humanity".

Nations at war

The Pope pointed out the new faces of the Child of Bethlehem: "May our gaze be filled with the faces of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters, who live this Christmas in darkness (...) Let us think of Syria, still martyred by a conflict that has passed into the background but has not ended; let us also think of the Holy Land, where during the past months violence and conflict have increased, with deaths and injuries. Let us implore the Lord that there, in the land where he was born, dialogue and the search for mutual trust between Israelis and Palestinians may be resumed".

One of the regions recently visited by the Pope and which was part of his remembrance on this day was the Middle East. Francis continued by asking that "the Child Jesus sustain the Christian communities that live throughout the Middle East, so that in each of these countries the beauty of fraternal coexistence between people of different faiths may be lived. May he help Lebanon in particular, so that it may finally recover, with the support of the international community and with the strength of fraternity and solidarity. May the light of Christ illumine the Sahel region, where peaceful coexistence among peoples and traditions is disrupted by clashes and violence. May it guide towards a lasting truce in Yemen and towards reconciliation in Myanmar and Iran, so that all bloodshed may cease".

Nor did the Pope want to forget his continent of origin, America, where some countries are experiencing moments of uncertainty and social destabilization, such as Nicaragua and Peru. The Pope raised his prayers asking God "to inspire the political authorities and all people of good will on the American continent to make an effort to pacify the political and social tensions affecting several countries; I am thinking in particular of the Haitian people, who have been suffering for a long time".

Staring and hungry

He also made a comparison between the meaning of Bethlehem, "House of Bread", pointing out "the people who suffer from hunger, especially children, while every day large quantities of food are wasted and goods are squandered in exchange for weapons". At this point, he dwelt on the consequences of the war in Ukraine that "has further aggravated the situation, leaving entire populations at risk of famine, especially in Afghanistan and in the countries of the Horn of Africa. Every war - we know - causes hunger and uses food itself as a weapon, preventing its distribution to people who are already suffering". On a day when many families gather at a special table, the Pope asked that "food be nothing more than an instrument of peace".

Finally, the Pope pointed to "so many migrants and refugees who knock at our door in search of comfort, warmth and food. Let us not forget the marginalized, the lonely, the orphans and the elderly who risk being discarded; the prisoners whom we look upon only for their mistakes and not as human beings".

The Holy Father concluded by asking us to allow ourselves to be "moved by the love of God and to follow Jesus, who emptied himself of his glory to make us sharers in his fullness".

After the words, the Pope gave the blessing. Urbi et orbi to all those present in St. Peter's Square and to those who followed this blessing through the media.

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