In his homily during Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, Pope Francis said: “Christmas is a time for turning the power of fear into the power of charity, into power for a new imagination of charity. The charity that does not grow accustomed to injustice, as if it were something natural, but that has the courage, amid tensions and conflicts, to make itself a ‘house of bread’, a land of hospitality. That is what St John Paul II told us (in his homily during the inauguration of his pontificate on October 22, 1978): ‘Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ’.

“In the Child of Bethlehem, God comes to meet us and make us active sharers in the life around us. He offers Himself to us, so that we can take Him into our arms, lift Him and embrace Him. So that in Him we will not be afraid to take into our arms, raise up and embrace the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned (cf. Mt 25:35-36). ‘Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ’.”

Call for dialogue on Holy Land

In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said the only way forward in the Middle East is dialogue between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Only such dialogue can help the reaching of a consensus. He called for “direct dialogue” between Israelis and Palestinians.

“Unilateral decisions are not useful for going in the direction of peace,” said Parolin, who restated the Vatican’s position that Jeru­sa­lem should have an internationally-guaranteed special status as an open city for Jews, Christians and Muslims, with religious freedom for all and access to pilgrimage sites.

The Church, he continued, is called “to continue to proclaim the great values of the Gospel: peace, dialogue as a path to arrive at peace, fraternity, solidarity. Here, these words must continue to be repeated because they risk being denied every day by the facts.”

Joint statement by Churches

The  Catholic bishops, Orthodox dioceses and several Protestant communities in Italy recently issued a statement entitled ‘The Church must always be reformed’.

After noting the persecution in the Middle East, they stated: “Every Church is called, in every epoch, to be conformed to the Word of God… Are we aware that God calls us to conversion every day?”

“The absolute love of God that is revealed in the crucified Lord [is] the only way to a world of peace, justice, freedom and solidarity… How do we live this condition of freedom in Christ and of mutual service?”

(Compiled by Fr Joe Borg)


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