Pope Francis held Christmas Eve mass on Saturday in Vatican City and made the plight of migrants around the world a focus in his sermon. The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics on Sunday led a solemn ceremony for about 10,000 people in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, while many others followed the service from the square outside.
The pontiff compared migrants’ struggles to find safety and security in other lands to the story of Mary and Joseph, who had to hide in a manger to give birth to the baby Jesus because “there was no place for them in the inn,”
Mary and Joseph, he said, were immigrants, who struggled to find a safe place to stay in Bethlehem.
“They had to leave their people, their home and their land,” Francis told an audience at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
“We see the tracks of entire families forced to set out in our own day. 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.
The pope also condemned human traffickers who make money off desperate refugees as the “Herods of today” with blood on their hands, a reference to the Biblical story of the king who ordered the killing of all newborn male children near Bethlehem because he feared Jesus would one day displace him.