Pope Francis pleads for migrants at Christmas Mass
VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis in his Christmas Eve Mass on Sunday, December 24, urged the world's 1.3 billion Catholics not to ignore the plight of migrants who are "driven from their land" because of leaders willing to shed "innocent blood.”
"So many other footsteps are hidden in the footsteps of Joseph and Mary," the Argentine pontiff, himself the grandson of Italian migrants, told worshippers in Saint Peter's Basilica
"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."
Many engulfed in the ongoing migration crisis were forced to flee from leaders "who, to impose their power and increase their wealth, see no problem in shedding innocent blood", said the 81-year-old, who will give his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" Christmas address on Monday, December 25.
The pontiff's plea for "hope" came as fresh tensions simmered in the West Bank following Washington's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
The announcement by US President Donald Trump on December 6 unleashed demonstrators and clashes, including in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank where Christians will mark the birth of Jesus at a midnight Mass.
Praying for Vinta's victims
Earlier on Christmas Eve, the Pope also assured his prayers for victims of Typhoon Vinta (Tembin) in the Philippines.
"I wish to assure my prayers for the population of Mindanao in the Philippines, which has been struck by a storm that has caused numerous victims and much destruction," Francis said in his remarks after his weekly Angelus prayer on Sunday.
"May the merciful Lord receive the souls of the dead and comfort those who are suffering from this disaster," the Pope added.
Vinta killed at least 200 people and forced 70,000 others out of their homes, in a predominantly Christian country where Christmas is a major holiday bringing families together.
In the Philippines, also on Christmas Eve, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urged Filipinos to remember people suffering from calamities, including typhoon victims.
"If we forget our poor and suffering brothers and sisters all over the world, and in our case in the Philippines, those suffering due to the typhoons in Mindanao and Visayas, Christmas will not be complete," Tagle said. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com