Pope Francis starts Christmas Eve Mass and warns the world to stop ignoring millions of migrants. The pontiff strongly defended and comparing them to Mary and Joseph finding no place to stay in Bethlehem and saying faith demands that foreigners be welcomed.
Vatican Pope, celebrating his fifth Christmas as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, led a solemn Mass for about 10,000 people in St. Peter’s Basilica while many others followed the service from the square outside.
The pontiff compared migrants to Mary and Joseph, recounting the Biblical story how they had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem for a census.
Many migrants, he said, were being forced to flee from leaders who “see no problem in shedding innocent blood”.
Francis will give his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” Christmas address on Monday.
“So many other footsteps are hidden in the footsteps of Joseph and Mary,” the 81-year-old Argentine pontiff, himself the grandson of Italian migrants, told worshippers in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City on Sunday evening.
“We see the tracks of millions of persons who do not choose to go away but, driven from their land, leave behind their dear ones.”
The leader of the world’s estimated 1.2bn Roman Catholics also stressed that faith demanded that foreigners be welcomed everywhere.
Pope Francis has made a defense of migrants around the world a major theme of his papacy.
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