Pope Francis lambasted efforts to remove Christ from Christmas on Wednesday, calling it a “distortion of Christmas” motivated by desires to marginalize Christianity throughout Europe.
Francis made the remarks in his last General Audience address of 2017, saying attempts to scrub references to Christ’s birth from Christmas celebrations were driven by a “false respect for non-Christians,” and that doing so only destroys the point of Christmas, according to Crux Now. Francis’ comments came days after President Donald Trump’s Christmas Eve messages where the president made a point of saying Merry Christmas and denounced “the assault of our cherished and beautiful phrase.”
“In the name of a false respect for non-Christians, which often hides a desire to marginalize the faith, every reference to the birth of Christ is being eliminated from the holiday,” Francis said, according to Crux. “But in reality, this event is the one true Christmas.”
“Without Jesus, there is no Christmas,” Francis added.
Jesus’ being central to Christmas gives meaning to the festivities, argued Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church. If Jesus is stripped away, the festivities become pointless and the holiday becomes fake, the pope noted.
“God involves those who, confined to the margins of society, are the first to receive his gift, which is the salvation brought by Jesus,” Francis said. “With the small ones, the disrespected, Jesus establishes a friendship that continues across time, and nourishes hope for a better future.”
The Vatican’s Christmas season will end officially with the Feast of the Epiphany on Jan. 6, and Francis will continue leading relevant holiday addresses, including his last Angelus address of 2017 on Sunday.
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