1. Pope Francis Prays for Migrants in Christmas Message.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, December 26, 2019, Pg. A16

Pope Francis called down God’s protection on people “forced to emigrate in the hope of a secure life” who find themselves before “walls of indifference” around the world.

Following tradition, this year’s Christmas message was a survey of trouble spots around the globe, including the Middle East.

Also Wednesday, the Vatican released a message from the pope and two other Christian leaders to politicians in South Sudan, urging them to implement peace agreements. Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, leader of the Anglican Communion, and the Rev. John Chalmers, a former moderator of the Church of Scotland, signed the message.

Archbishop Welby said in November that he and Pope Francis will visit South Sudan in March if leaders there agree to form an interim government, ending a conflict that has lasted since 2013.


2. Francis over Christmas muses on personal, not just structural, reform.

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, December 26, 2019

Over the centuries, papal rhetoric became a global standard-setter in indirection.

From the beginning, Pope Francis has been a break with this tradition, often using blunt speech more associated with country pastors than Successors of Peter. Yet in his two centerpiece messages for Christmas, Francis practiced a bit of indirection himself, indirectly sketching a parallel strategy for both ecclesiastical and social reform without ever quite saying so out loud.

In effect, Francis’s suggestion was this: Yes, by all means, let’s work for structural changes to deliver greater justice, peace and protection of human dignity, both in the Church and the world. But let’s not pretend we can change structures without first changing ourselves.

The pontiff’s Christmas Day Urbi et Orbi message was more ad extra in nature, focused on the situation outside the Church, and Francis was certainly not oblique in naming problem situations from Syria and Iraq to Venezuela, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ukraine.

In any event, Francis’s appeal this Christmas seemed addressed more to the individual conscience than to the U.S. Congress or the General Assembly of the UN – or, to put it more accurately, it was addressed to the flesh-and-blood people who make up such institutions, including those of the Church he leads.


3. Pope offers hope against darkness in Christmas Day message.

By Associated Press, December 25, 2019, 6:55 AM

Pope Francis offered a Christmas message of hope Wednesday against darkness that cloaks conflicts and relationships in large parts of the world from the Middle East to the Americas to Africa.

The pope told tens of thousands of tourists, pilgrims and Romans gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the annual Christmas Day message that “the light of Christ is greater’’ than the darkness “in human hearts” and ‘’in economic, geopolitical and ecological conflicts.’’

The traditional “Urbi et Orbi’’ (“to the city and to the world’’) Christmas message has become an occasion for popes to address suffering in the world and press for solutions.

The pope cited the Syrian people “who still see no end to the hostilities that have rent their country over the last decade’’ as well as Israel, where Jesus “was born as the savior of mankind and where so many people — struggling but not discouraged — still await a time of peace, security and prosperity.’’

Francis also called for an easing of the crisis in Lebanon, social tensions in Iraq and “a grave humanitarian crisis’’ in Yemen.

He noted that a number of countries in the Americas “are experiencing a time of social and political upheaval,’’ citing “the beloved Venezuelan people, long tried by their political and social tensions.”

The pope also noted migrants forced by injustice “to emigrate in the hope of a secure life.’’ Instead of finding acceptance, Francis said injustice continues along their journey, where they often face abuse, enslavement and torture in “inhumane detention camps’’ and death during dangerous sea and desert crossings.

And in an extraordinary message, Francis along with two other religious leaders urged the rival leaders of South Sudan to maintain a pledge to form a coalition government early next year. A peace deal to end a 5-year civil war that killed close to 400,000 people was signed last year, but a November deadline to form a coalition government was extended to February as key aspects of the peace deal still need to be resolved.


4. Mother Teresa’s nuns return to her rural Kentucky mission.

By Chris Kenning, Louisville Courier Journal, Associated Press, December 24, 2019, 1:27 PM

After an absence of several years, the small contingent of Missionaries of Charity nuns recently returned to reside at the remote Appalachian outpost — continuing the legacy of providing spiritual and physical aid that began when Mother Teresa visited in 1982.

It was the first rural mission she opened in rural America, and it remains one of the religious order’s few rural U.S. missions. In an area of Kentucky still counted one of America’s poorest regions, the needs seem only to have deepened.

By the early 1980s, Kentucky’s Covington diocese invited Mother Teresa’s order to minister in Appalachia, settling on Letcher County as a forgotten and needy place but also one that had a Catholic church built by the coal company to attract Irish and German workers.

By then, Mother Teresa, an Albanian nun known as the “Saint of the Gutters” who had founded a new Roman Catholic order to help “the poorest of the poor,” had already won the Nobel Peace Prize. Her work from Kolkata, India, helping orphans, lepers and the poor had spread to other countries.

She visited Jenkins for the first time in 1982 to mark the opening of the convent at 44 Cove Ave., a street that once housed top coal company founders.


5. In Christmas Message, British PM Vows to Defend Persecuted Christians: “We stand with Christians everywhere, in solidarity, and will defend your right to practice your faith,” says Boris Johnson.

By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, December 24, 2019

Britain’s newly-elected Prime Minister has recalled the plight of persecuted Christians in his Christmas message, saying his government stands with Christians “everywhere, in solidarity, and will defend your right to practice your faith.”

“Today of all days, I want us to remember those Christians around the world who are facing persecution,” Johnson said. “For them, Christmas Day will be marked in private, in secret, perhaps even in a prison cell.

“As Prime Minister, that’s something I want to change,” Johnson continued. “We stand with Christians everywhere, in solidarity, and will defend your right to practice your faith.”

Johnson’s Conservative Party, elected with a landslide majority Dec. 12, pledged as part of its manifesto to implement recommendations of recent report on how Britain could better help persecuted Christians.


6. Pope marks joyful Christmas Eve after less-than-joyful year.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 24, 2019, 4:41 PM

Pope Francis assured the faithful on Christmas Eve that God loves everyone — “even the worst of us” — as he celebrated the joyous birth of Christ after a less-than-joyful year of scandals and opposition.

Francis said the birth of Jesus, which Christians commemorate on Christmas Day, was a reminder of God’s unconditional love for everyone, “even the worst of us.”

“God does not love you because you think and act the right way,” he said. “You may have mistaken ideas, you may have made a complete mess of things, but the Lord continues to love you.”


TCA Media Monitoring provides a snapshot from national newspapers and major Catholic press outlets of coverage regarding significant Catholic Church news and current issues with which the Catholic Church is traditionally or prominently engaged. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.
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