Plight of the poor highlighted by Pope
POPE Benedict has ushered in Christmas at midnight mass in the Vatican, saying the image of the baby Jesus born in a manger should remind everyone of the plight of poor, abused and neglected children the world over.
The 79-year-old Benedict, marking the second Christmas season of his pontificate, celebrated the mass for more than 10,000 people in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Thousands of others watched on large screens outside on a clear, starry night and millions more tuned in via television or radio round the world.
‘‘The child of Bethlehem directs our gaze towards all children, particularly those who suffer and are abused in the world, the born and the unborn,’’ the Pope said in his homily.
‘‘Towards children who are placed as soldiers in a violent world; towards children who have to beg; towards children who suffer deprivation and hunger; towards children who are unloved.
‘‘In all of these it is the Child of Bethlehem who is crying out to us. It is the God who has become small who appeals to us.’’
Just as the shepherds of Bethlehem were called by an angel to seek the child lying in the manger, modern man was called to listen to the message of the baby Jesus, the Pope said.
‘‘Let us pray this night that the brightness of God’s love may enfold all these children. Let us ask God to help us do our part so that the dignity of children may be respected. May they all experience the light of love, which mankind needs so much more than the material necessities of life,’’ he said.
At the start of the solemn mass, a cantor sang theKalenda,an ancient text that presents Christ as the centre of the cosmos and of all history.