A sombre Pope Francis steeped his Christmas message in sadness for those with little cause for joy — abused children, refugees, hostages and others suffering from violence in the Middle East, Africa, Ukraine and elsewhere
- Pope Francis delivered Christmas Day speech to more than 80,000 from balcony overlooking St Peter's Square
- Expressed his sadness for abused children, refugees, hostages and others suffering from violence in the world
- Lamented that many children are 'made objects of trade and trafficking' or forced to become soldiers
- 'I think also of those infants massacred in bomb attacks, also those where the Son of God was born,' he said
- Pope celebrated Christmas Eve with a late-night Mass in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican
- Earlier, he called refugees in Iraq saying they too were like Jesus as they had also been forced to flee their homes
'During the Mass hours later in St Peter's, Francis echoed some of the themes he raised in the phone call as he reflected on the Nativity scene.
'How much the world needs tenderness today!' he said. 'God's patience, God's closeness, God's tenderness.'
In his homily, the Pope, wearing white vestments, said Christmas is a time to remember that God's message of peace 'is stronger than darkness and corruption'.
He said: 'The question put to us simply by the infant's presence is, 'Do I allow God to love me?' Do we have the courage to welcome with tenderness the difficulties and problems of those who are near to us?'
It is the second Christmas season for Pope Francis as leader of the Roman Catholic Church and being elected last year.
The Mass marked the start of a busy few weeks for the 78-year-old that includes New Year's Eve vespers and 2015 greetings a few hours later.
On January 6 he will celebrate Epiphany Mass, and on January 11 he will baptise babies in the Sistine Chapel.'
On Christmas eve, someone telephoned me and said I was too religious. There are people who think we who pray and the priests are not right in the head. It is prayer with the power of God that is preventing utter destruction in this world. In this time there are people living in the most horrendous and terrifying conditions - I care so do other people. Not everyone does. We might feel helpless - we can still pray and send love out into this world.
If the world focus was on prayer for healing and peace, with sincere heart, healing and peace becomes possible. The religion of hate has been seen with people who claim to be Christians too. The message Jesus gave was to love and to pray for those who have gone the wrong way. There is no indoctrination - just continuation of His Truth.
With generations of hurting people in our world - hurt brings pain and reactions - war brings pain and reactions. Do not let retaliation be provoked or people who belong to Christ go kill his own family.
History has shown people being moved from one land to another - refugees starting of a new life> People forget where they come from and forget their God given birthright too. The LORD God of ALL SEES AND KNOWS ALL.
In this time of remembering, we cannot afford to be ignorant of what is happening at any time, as has shown destruction can come from the elements. If you are taking an oath to give your life and trust to a man (or woman) who rejects God and is out of alignment with His Instruction, this is why people have been robbed of living in peace too.
Peace be with you
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