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Pope says ‘vain logic of war’ drowns out peace this Christmas: NPR

Pope Francis presides over Christmas Eve mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, Sunday, December 24, 2023.

Gregorio Borgia/AP

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Gregorio Borgia/AP

Pope Francis presides over Christmas Eve mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, Sunday, December 24, 2023.

Gregorio Borgia/AP

During his speech at Christmas Mass from St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, Pope Francis said his heart was with those suffering in Bethlehem, where God’s good is being drowned out by the conflict in Gaza.

“Tonight, our hearts are in Bethlehem,” Francis said on Sunday, “where the Prince of Peace is once again rejected by the vain logic of war, by the clash of arms which, even today, prevents one from finding one’s place in the world.

The 87-year-old ruler’s speech began with “A Census of the Whole Earth,” where he drew comparisons between emperors and God. He explained how the powerful seek to make a name for themselves in history, while “the king of history chooses the path of smallness,” which is the starting point for his next point.

The census of the entire Earth by an emperor “manifests the all-too-human threat that runs through history: the quest for power and worldly might, for fame and glory,” Francis said. But God, the pope said, “does not eliminate injustice from above by a demonstration of power, but from below, by a demonstration of love.”

The pope has repeatedly called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas since the conflict began in early October.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his own speech on Sunday, published on, formerly known as Twitter, told the world that Israel’s war against the “barbarians” would prevail. The prime minister’s speech comes at the end of a weekend of massacre for Israeli forces, who lost 14 soldiers on Friday and Saturday during fighting in Gaza.

Meanwhile, in Bethlehem, about 2,400 kilometers from the Vatican, Christmas is canceled. Manger Square – the birthplace of Jesus located in the West Bank – is usually packed with tourists, but festivities were disrupted this year due to the war, the Associated Press reported.

The violence has already cost the lives of more than 20,000 Palestinians, as well as 153 Israeli soldiers and 1,200 Israeli civilians, since the fighting began on October 7.

Hana Haniyeh, mayor of Bethlehem, also delivered a Christmas message.

“Every year at Christmas our message is one of peace and love,” she told the crowd. “But this year it is a message of sadness, sorrow and anger to the international community about what is happening and happening in the Gaza Strip.”

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