There were a number of important talks today by the Holy Father – one to Italian Catholic Jurists (Pope to Catholic Jurists: To deny fundamental rights is to deny human dignity – Vatican News) and another to the members of the Italian Air Force at the conclusion today of the Lauretan Jubilee, a year dedicated to Our Lady of Loreto, patroness of airmen and women, that began December 10, 2020 (Pope to Italian Air Force: Fly high, you are peacemakers – Vatican News).
The Vatican Christmas tree was illuminated a short time ago and the nativity scene inaugurated and the feeling of Christmas is definitely in the air! The Pope received those who donated these gifts to the Vatican and spoke about the meaning of Christmas, as you will see in the news story below.
VATICAN INSIDER CELEBRATES THE 70 YEARS OF CARITAS
In this week’s interview, segment, I speak with Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Aloysius John about the 70th anniversary of that institution. That anniversary, in fact, is this very weekend, December 12th!
We look at the celebrations that have been taking place around the globe, at Caritas’past, it current work and its hopes for the future, as well as how the Covid pandemic has affected its work. Caritas is a confederation of national Caritas organizations such as Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities, Caritas Italia, etc. It has really grown from the initial 13 to 162 members today.
Caritas President is Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.
Caritas website: Caritas – Ending poverty, promoting justice and restoring dignity
Here are some photos in the halls of the Caritas offices in Palazzo San Callisto in Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood. They reflect the regions served by Caritas.
IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: go to https://www.ewtn.com/radio/audio-archive and write the name of the guest for whom you are serarching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.
POPE: LET US NOT EXPERIENCE A FAKE, COMMERCIAL CHRISTMAS
Pope Francis on Friday met delegations from Peru and Italy who donated the Nativity Scene and the giant Christmas tree in the centre of St. Peter’s Square this year. Another Italian group donated the crib in the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall.
By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis on Friday exhorted Christians to keep clear of a fake, commercial Christmas, polluted by consumerism and indifference. He made the remark to a group of 3 delegations who donated two Nativity Scenes and a Christmas tree to the Vatican this year.
This year’s Nativity Scene in St. Peter Square’s is a gift from Peru and comes from the Chopcca Nation, which comprises several communities located in the Huancavelica region in the highlands of the Andes mountains. The scene comprising more than 30 life-sized figurines in typical Andean costumes, are made of ceramic, maguey wood and fibreglass, and features alpacas, vicunas and the Andean condor, Peru’s national symbol.
Next to the crib, the majestic 28-meter-high red fir Christmas tree as well as its wooden decorations are from the Andalo forest of the northern Italian region of Trentino.
Another Nativity Scene has also been set up at the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall, where the Pope received the delegations. It is a gift of the young people of the parish of San Bartolomeo in Gallio, in the Italian Diocese of Padua.
The crib – the universal call to salvation
Addressing the groups, Pope Francis reflected on the meaning of Christmas. The characters in the crib made from materials and clothes characteristic of the area, he said, “represent the peoples of the Andes and symbolize the universal call to salvation”. “Jesus, in fact, came to earth in the concreteness of a people to save every man and woman, of all cultures and nationalities. He made Himself small so that we could welcome Him and receive the gift of God’s tenderness.”
Christmas tree – rebirth
On the other hand, the fir tree is a sign of Christ, the tree of life, a tree to which man had no access because of sin, the Pope said. With the birth of Christ, divine life joined human life. Hence the Christmas tree evokes rebirth, the gift of God who unites Himself with man forever, who gives us His life. “The lights of the fir tree recall that of Jesus, the light of love that continues to shine in the nights of the world.”
Consumerism and indifference
The Holy Father invited Christians to keep to the true spirit of Christmas, urging, “Let us not allow it to be polluted by consumerism and indifference.” The symbols of the crib and the tree bring back the certainty that fills our hearts with the peace and joy that lives with us and gives us hope. The tree and the crib introduce us to the typical Christmas atmosphere of tenderness, sharing and family intimacy mood. “Let us not experience a fake, commercial Christmas!” the Pope exhorted, adding, “Let us allow ourselves to be enveloped by God’s compassionate and tender closeness, and by the Christmas atmosphere that art, music, songs and traditions bring to our hearts.”
God with us
Thanking the group from Padua for their Christmas crib, Pope Francis said Christmas is the feast of trust and hope. That God is with us and trusts and never tires of forgiving us is the reason for hope. He chooses to make His dwelling place with us and take on the realities where we spend our days. He is not one who is on high to dominate but who stoops down to become small and poor to serve. Hence, to resemble Him, one has to lower oneself in service.
At Christmas, God comes to be with us and asks us to take care of our brothers and sisters, especially the poorest, the weakest and the most fragile, whom the pandemic marginalizes even further, the Pope added.
(for photos and text: Pope: Let us not experience a fake, commercial Christmas – Vatican News)