‘Our hearts are in Bethlehem’: Pope laments war at Christmas mass

Pope Francis leads a Christmas mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Dec. 24, 2023. (EPA Photo)

Pope Francis lamented Sunday that Jesus’ message of peace was being drowned out by the “futile logic of war” in the very land where he was born, as the pontiff led the world’s Roman Catholics into Christmas.

Francis, celebrating the 11th Christmas of his pontificate, presided at a solemn Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and spoke of the conflict in the Holy Land in his homily.

“Tonight, our hearts are in Bethlehem, where the Prince of Peace is once more rejected by the futile logic of war, by the clash of arms that even today prevents him from finding room in the world,” Francis said.

At the papal Mass for 6,500 people in St. Peter’s Basilica and more watching on screens in the square outside, Francis said the real message of Christmas is peace and love, urging people not to be obsessed with worldly success and the “idolatry of consumerism.”

He spoke of “the all-too-human thread that runs through history: The quest for worldly power and might, fame and glory, which measures everything in terms of success, results, numbers and figures, a world obsessed with achievement.”

Francis said that while many might find it hard to celebrate Christmas in “this world that is so judgmental and unforgiving,” they should try to remember what happened on the first Christmas.

Tonight, love changes history,” he said.

Francis has made numerous appeals for a cease-fire in the conflict raging in Gaza and has called for the release of all hostages held by Palestinian resistance groups.

In retaliation to the Oct. 7 Hamas incursion, Israel has besieged the Gaza Strip and laid much of it to waste, with more than 20,400 people confirmed killed, according to Gazan authorities, and thousands more believed dead under the rubble.

The vast majority of the 2.3 million Gazans have been driven from their homes and the United Nations says conditions are catastrophic.

Francis was set to deliver his Christmas Day “Urbi et Orbi,” or the Papal address, at noon on Monday.

By Agencies

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