Pope Francis decries war, poverty and consumerism in Christmas mass

VATICAN – Pope Francis has rebuked those “ravenous” for wealth and power at the expense of the vulnerable, including children, in a homily decrying war, poverty and consumerism.

In the splendor of St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis presided over the Christmas Eve Mass attended by about 7,000 faithful, including tourists and pilgrims, who flocked to the church on a warm evening and took their place behind rows of white-robed pontiffs.

Francis drew lessons from the humility of Jesus’ first hours of life in a manger.

“While animals feed in their stalls, men and women in our world, in their hunger for wealth and power, consume even their neighbors, their brothers and sisters,” the pontiff lamented. “How many wars have we seen! And in how many places, even today, are human dignity and freedom treated with contempt!”

“As always, the principal victims of this human greed are the weak and the vulnerable,’’ said Francis, who didn’t cite any specific conflict or situation. “This Christmas, too, as in the case of Jesus, a world ravenous for money, power and pleasure does not make room for the little ones, for the so many unborn, poor and forgotten children,’’ the pope said, reading his homily with a voice that sounded tired and almost hoarse. “I think above all of the children devoured by war, poverty and injustice.”

Still, the pontiff exhorted people to take heart.

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