Pope Francis addresses migrant crisis during Christmas Eve mass

Pope Francis held Christmas Eve mass on Sunday in Vatican City and made the plight of migrants around the world a focus in his sermon.

Pope Francis serves Christmas Eve Mass at midnight on December 24, 2017 at St Peter's basilica in the Vatican. Photo by Sefano Spaziani/UPI | License Photo
Pope Francis serves Christmas Eve Mass at midnight on December 24, 2017 at St Peter’s basilica in the Vatican. Photo by Sefano Spaziani/UPI | License Photo

The pontiff compared migrants’ struggles to find safety and security in other lands to the story of Mary and Joseph, who had to hide in a manger to give birth to the baby Jesus because “there was no place for them in the inn,” The New York Times reported.

Francis said that when Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem, the inn “had no room or place for the stranger from afar.” But Jesus, the pope said, “comes to give all of us our document of citizenship.”

After drawing parallels between today’s current events and Biblical stories, Francis addressed the migrant crisis directly.

“We see the tracks of millions of persons who do not choose to go away but, driven from their land, leave behind their dear ones,” he said.

And while some seek better opportunities, “for many others this departure can only have one name: survival,” he added.

“So many other footsteps are hidden in the footsteps of Joseph and Mary,” Francis said, according to the BBC.

As political rhetoric over migration has become increasingly heated, Pope Francis has been more outspoken on the issue in recent years.

Earlier this month, Francis visited Bangladesh, where he met with members of the Rohingya Muslim refugee community, which many analysts say is suffering from ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Myanmar government.

“The presence of God today is also called Rohingya,” Francis said, according to CNN. “Your tragedy is very hard, very big. We give you space in our hearts. In the name of everyone, of those who persecute you, those who hurt you, and especially of the world’s indifference, I ask for your forgiveness. Forgive us.”

Last year, he urged European leaders to be more accepting of African migrants.

“Being a migrant is not a crime,” he said. “Today more than ever, their vision inspires us to build bridges and tear down walls.”

By Ray Downs