Pope Francis led Catholics around the world into Christmas on Saturday, referring to conflicts in Ukraine. He said that greed was so great that people wanted to consume their neighbors.
Francis celebrated the 10th Christmas under his pontificate by presiding over a solemn Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. After years of limited attendance due to COVID, it was the first mass with over 7,000 people.
On a warm evening, about 4,000 people were also outside St. Peter’s Square.
A knee injury prevented Francis from being able to stand for prolonged periods of time. This led to a delegation of a cardinal as the chief celebrant at the Altar in the biggest church in Christendom.
He sat at the altar most of Mass and weaved his homily about greed and consumption.
He said, “Men, women, and children in the world consume their neighbors, as they hunger for power and wealth.” How many wars has this country seen? How many times are freedom and human dignity treated with contempt in these places?
Francis, who has been speaking out against the war since February when Russia invaded its neighbor, has done so at almost every public event. At least two times per week. He has denounced what he calls atrocities as well as unprovoked aggression.
On Saturday night, he did not mention Ukraine.
He said that “as always the main victims of this human gluttony are the weakest and most vulnerable” and denounced “a world hungry for power, money, and pleasure
“I consider above all the children who are ravaged by poverty, war and injustice,” he added, mentioning also “unborn, poor, and forgotten”
The pope made a comparison between Jesus’ birth in a manger and today’s poverty by saying: “In the mangers of rejection and discomfort God is present.” Because there is a problem in humanity, the indifference caused by our greed for possession and consumption, he comes to us.
The pope encouraged people to cut back on Christmas festivities and gift-giving and to send any extra money to Ukraine to get them through winter.
Last week, the pope celebrated his 86th birthday. He appears to have recovered from his knee injury and is in good overall health.
He will deliver the twice-yearly “Urbi et Orbi”, (to the city, the world), blessings, and messages to tens and thousands below from the central balcony at St. Peter’s Basilica.