Plight of the poor high­lighted by Pope

Townsville Bulletin - - Front Page -

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.

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