On Christmas Eve, Pope Francis made a phone call to a refugee camp in Ankawa, Iraq. The call was made via satellite connection by TV2000, an Italian TV station. The Pope’s words were translated in Arabic by a local priest.
“I greet all of you and I wish you a Holy Christmas,” the Pope said. Continuing his message, the Holy Father compared the plight of Christians to that of the Holy Family when they escaped to Egypt.
“You are like Jesus on this night and I bless you and am close to you. Think about how you are like Jesus in this situation and this makes me pray more for you.
After expressing his closeness to the Iraqi refugees, the Pope’s transmission was briefly interrupted. Upon reestablishing the connection, the Pope’s message continued:
“Closeness and tenderness: Christmas is the celebration of God’s closeness with us and God manifests Himself through tenderness, the tenderness of a child and a mother. Jesus has said in two Gospel readings where Christian life is found; in the Beatitudes and then in Matthew 25: to visit the sick, the imprisoned, the needy, care for the widows, of those who have no food or clothing, to care for those in need who are the flesh of Christ. This is called tenderness,” the Pope explained.
Concluding his message, Pope Francis said: “Jesus is coming tonight, he comes as a child, tender, innocent. The children who are among, the children who have died and those who are exploited. Let us think about the children: the Child Jesus comes among us, it is the love and tenderness of God. May the Lord give us the grace to receive them with a lot of love. I also think about the grandparents, who have lived an entire life and now suffer this cross. May the elderly give us the wisdom of life. The children and the elderly are in my heart tonight. And now to all of you, especially the children and the elderly, I bless you from my heart.”