“This pandemic time has heightened the sense of perplexity around the world. After a first phase of reaction, in which we felt solidary in the same boat, the temptation to ‘save yourself if you can’ appeared. But thanks be to God, we reacted once again with a sense of responsibility”, said Francisco, who did not preside at the Mass held in the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, but who attended the religious ceremony in a sitting position.
The ceremony began just before 17:00 local time (16:00 in Lisbon), when Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re advanced in procession to the main altar, while the Pope was seated in a chair, located in the area to the right of the basilica, where it remained throughout the celebration, except at the time of the homily.
In the intervention, Francisco asked that Christmas should not be limited to being a party with “a superficial emotion, linked to the outside of the party, or worse, to the consumer frenzy.”
“If Christmas comes down to this, nothing changes: tomorrow will be the same as yesterday, next year will be the same as before and so on”, he stressed.
The new Mayor of Rome, Roberto Gualtieri, attended the mass and the Pope took the opportunity to ask that the Italian capital receive the people and be a home for the frail and vulnerable.
“In Rome, everyone feels like a brother. In a sense, everyone feels at home, because this city has a universal openness in it. It comes from its history, its culture; it comes mainly from the Gospel of Christ, which here left deep roots fertilized with the blood of the martyrs”, explained Francisco.
But he warned: “We must be careful, a welcoming and fraternal city is not recognized by its ‘frontage’, by its beautiful speeches”.
It is recognized, said Francisco, for the care it provides “to those who struggle the most, to families that feel the weight of the crisis the most, to people with severe disabilities and their families, to those who need public transport every day to go to work, to those who live on the periphery, to those who have been touched by some failure in their lives and need social services”.
Francisco recognized that “Rome is a wonderful city, which never ceases to enchant”, but that can tire those who inhabit it, because “sometimes it discards”.
In previous years, the Pope used to visit the Portal de Belém and the Christmas Tree on foot, located in St. Peter’s Square, always accompanied by security guards, but this year the visit, initially scheduled, was canceled to avoid crowds due to covid-19 pandemic, explained the Vatican.
Pope Francis will also deliver a homily at the first Mass of 2022, on the day the Catholic Church commemorates the World Day of Peace, an event that will be dedicated to dialogue between generations, education and work.