Below is a Zenit translation of the address that Pope Francis gave to the artists taking part in the ‘Christmas in the Vatican’ Concert taking place in the Vatican this morning. The Concert will be held on Saturday, December 16, in Paul VI Hall, under the direction of the Congregation for Catholic Education. The proceeds will go to the Scholas Occurrentes Foundation and to the Don Bosco in the World Foundation.
Upon his arrival in the Clementine Hall, Pope Francis was received with a Christmas song interpreted by the artists, including children of the Little Choir of Piazza Vittorio and the choristers of the Art Voice Academy and the Hallelujah Gospel Singers.
***The Holy Father’s Greeting
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I receive you in this meeting, which enables me to express my appreciation for your participation in the concert “Christmas in the Vatican,” whose proceeds will go to finance two projects in favor of children of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and of young people of Argentina. I greet and thank the promoters of the event and all those who will perform tomorrow evening, as well as all those that will take part, thus expressing sensitivity to the needs of the neediest and those in hardship, who ask for help and solidarity.
Christmas — we know — is a warm, widely celebrated feast, able to warm the coldest hearts, to remove the barriers of indifference to one’s neighbor, to encourage openness to the other and to the free gift. Therefore, there is need also today to spread the message of peace and fraternity proper of Christmas; there is need to represent this event by expressing the genuine sentiments that animate it. And art is a formidable means to open the doors of the mind and of the heart to the true meaning of Christmas. The creativity and genius of the artists, with their works, also with music and singing, succeed in reaching the most intimate registers of the conscience. Art enters precisely in the depth of the conscience.
I express my best wishes that the Concert of Christmas in the Vatican may be an occasion to sow tenderness – this word so forgotten today! “Violence,” “war” . . . no, no, tenderness – to sow tenderness, peace and hospitality, which spring from the Bethlehem cave. I renew to each one my gratitude and, while I express a warm wish for a serene Christmas festivity, rich in joy and peace, I bless each one of you, your families and your dear ones.
And please, don’t forget to pray for me. Thank you![Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s working translation by Virginia M. Forrester]