Cardinal Pietro Parolin celebrated Mass in the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Erbil, Iraq, on Thursday. The Holy See’s Cardinal Secretary of State is visiting Iraq during the Christmas season, with a journey that began in Baghdad on Christmas Eve.
In his homily, Cardinal Parolin recognized the “great generosity” displayed by the local community in welcoming Christian refugees, especially from Mosul and the Plain of Nineveh. “Hatred and intolerance,” he said, “were countered by solidarity and closeness” on the part of all those who supported suffering Christians and other Iraqis.
“You are a Church of martyrs,” Cardinal Parolin said to the local community. “The blood of your martyrs and the witness of faith given by so many of your brothers and sisters represent a treasure for the Church and a seed of new vitality.”
Read full article here; https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2018-12/cardinal-pietro-parolin-erbil-christmas-homily-chaldean-catholic.html
Hundreds of locals and foreign visitors milled in Manger Square as bagpipe-playing Palestinian Scouts paraded past a giant Christmas tree. Crowds flooded the Church of the Nativity, venerated as the traditional site of Jesus’s birth, and waited to descend into the ancient grotto. Palestinian Tourism Minister Rula Maaya said all Bethlehem hotels were fully booked, and the city was preparing to host an “astounding” 10,000 tourists overnight.
Palestinian security personnel and vehicles stationed around the square reminded visitors that amid the merriment, they couldn’t quite escape the city’s political reality. Bethlehem is located in the Palestinian-controlled area of the West Bank, and much of the city lies behind Israel’s separation barrier.
In anticipation of the midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity, the climax of Christmas Eve celebrations, Palestinians and pilgrims huddled in groups, some singing “Silent Night” and carrying candles.
Read full article here; https://www.apnews.com/f2d8c4bc0cd14410890982739d1e2941
“Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Christmas!”, Pope Francis said to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Christmas Day. “To you, the faithful of Rome, to you, the pilgrims, and to all who are linked to us from every part of the world, I renew the joyous proclamation of Bethlehem: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those whom he favors’ (Lk 2:14) …”
“A particular thought goes to our brothers and sisters who celebrate the Birth of the Lord in difficult, if not hostile situations, especially where the Christian community is a minority, often vulnerable or not taken into account. May the Lord grant that they, and all minorities, may live in peace and see their rights recognized, especially the right to religious freedom…
May the little Child whom we contemplate today in the manger, in the cold of the night, watch over all the children of the world, and every frail, vulnerable and discarded person. May all of us receive peace and consolation from the birth of the Savior and, in the knowledge that we are loved by the one heavenly Father, realize anew that we are brothers and sisters and come to live as such!”
Read full message of Urbi et Orbi Of His Holiness Pope Francis here; http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/urbi/documents/papa-francesco_20181225_urbi-et-orbi-natale.html