“Too many children are exploited, abused, enslaved. Too many children today are refugees, who sometimes end up sinking at sea.”
Francis preached in Manger Square, near the ancient Christian basilica that preserves the memory of Jesus’ birth, as the entire “State of Palestine,” as he called it, listened to him.
Bethlehem got an early start this morning. From the early hours of the morning, Manger Square was filled with faithful, mostly coming from the Palestinian Territories, to attend the mass celebrated by the pope.
The second day of the papal visit to the Holy Land was dedicated to the Palestinian people. Local Christians gathered here with some difficulties, mainly caused by the problems related to moving around. Only thirty-five people, of the 600 who had been given permits to come, managed to get out of Gaza. Nearly 6000 people were present in total, people from Jericho, Ramallah, Taybeh, all local Christians who came to the cradle of Christianity to embrace their “Baba,” as the Arabs call the pope.
You can see Christ in him. The Pope has some of Jesus’ traits on his face. And you can see that he cares about people and loves them.
I think the Pope’s visit gives hope to the Palestinian people, and it can be lead to progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It is wonderful to have His Holiness here, and it is so nice to see so many people gathered around him!
He carries with him the message of peace in the land of peace. We still believe in this miracle, we believe that peace—one day—can also pay a visit to our country.
“The Baby Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem, is the sign given by God to those who were awaiting salvation, and he forever remains the sign of God’s tenderness and of His presence in the world,” the Pope said in his homily during the Mass that was animated by the Arab liturgy.
“Even today—Francis said—children are a sign: a sign of hope, a sign of life, even a sign to understand the state of health of a family, a society, of the whole world. When children are welcomed, loved, guarded, protected, the family is healthy, society gets better, and the world is more humane.”
At the end of the Mass, an unprecedented announcement: “In this place, where the Prince of Peace was born, I wish to extend an invitation to you, Mr. President Mahmoud Abbas, and to President Shimon Peres to offer up an intense prayer with me, asking God for the gift of peace. I offer up my home at the Vatican to host this prayer meeting.”