SHAFAQNA – The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has called for “tenderness” and spiritual “warmth” to solve world’s current crises during his Christmas Eve mass in the Vatican.
“Do we have the courage to welcome with tenderness the difficulties and problems of those who are near to us?” the pope asked in Saint Peter’s Basilica, filled with some 5,000 worshippers on Wednesday.
“Or do we prefer impersonal solutions, perhaps effective but devoid of the warmth of the Gospel? How much the world needs tenderness today!” he said.
The 78-year-old pontiff also told worshippers to have greater empathy toward family and friends.
Meanwhile, thousands of worshippers poured into the West Bank city of Bethlehem for Christmas ceremonies.
The worshippers held a mass ceremony at the Church of Nativity, which is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
The Bethlehem ceremonies come amid Israel’s severe restrictions on Christians from the Gaza Strip.
Thousands of pilgrims earlier crowded into Manger Square to watch a procession led by Patriarch Fouad Twal.
Patriarch Twal, the most senior Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land, said he hoped 2015 would be “better than this difficult year.”
“I hope next year there will be no separation wall and I hope we will have bridges of peace instead,” he added. “Peace comes from justice and we have a cause which we hope will be solved soon.”
He called on Jews, Muslims and Christians to “live together as equals with mutual respect.”
This year, Tel Aviv has only allowed a few hundred Christians in the coastal enclave to go to the church.