Pope Francis has defended refugees at his Christmas Eve mass, strongly urging the world not to ignore the plight of people who are “driven from their land” because of leaders willing to shed “innocent blood”.
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.
In his homily, Francis likened refugees to Mary and Joseph finding no place to stay in Bethlehem and said faith demands that foreigners be welcomed.
“So many other footsteps are hidden in the footsteps of Joseph and Mary,” said the Argentine pontiff, himself the grandson of Italian migrants.
“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.
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