Pope Francis: Don’t De-Christianize Christmas Out of ‘False Respect for Non-Christians’

Pope Francis gestures as he speaks during his weekly general audience at the Aula Paolo VI on December 27, 2017 in Vatican. / AFP PHOTO / Andreas SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
Getty

Pope Francis has once again come down hard against the secularization of Christmas, this time denouncing the falsification of the Christian holiday in the name of a supposed “respect” for non-Christians.

“In our days, especially in Europe, we are seeing a kind of ‘distortion’ of Christmas,” the Pope said in his General Audience in the Vatican Wednesday. “In the name of a false respect for non-Christians, which often conceals a desire to marginalize the faith, we eliminate any reference to the birth of Jesus from the feast.”

Commemorating Christ’s birth “is the only real Christmas! Without Jesus there is no Christmas,” Francis said. “And if He is in the center, then everything else—the lights, the sounds, the various local traditions, including the typical foods—all helps to create the atmosphere of the feast. But if we remove Him, the light goes out and everything becomes fake and unreal.”

Like the Shepherds in the Gospel, Francis said, “we are guided to seek and find the true light, that of Jesus who, as a man like us, is revealed in an astonishing way: born of a poor, unknown girl, who gives birth to him in a stable.”

“The world does not notice anything, but in heaven the Angels rejoice!” he said.

God’s coming in Jesus disturbs many people today, the Pope said, even as it did 2,000 years ago.

“Even today we see that humanity often prefers the darkness, because it knows that the light would reveal all those actions and those thoughts that make us blush or give our conscience remorse. So, people prefer to stay in the dark so as not to upset their misguided habits,” he said.

This was not the first time this year that Francis voiced his opposition to the secularization of Christmas.

Several days ago, Francis called on Christians to liberate Christmas, saying it had been taken “hostage” by worldliness.

“Let us free Christmas from the worldliness that has taken it hostage!” the Pope said in a tweet last Friday. “The true spirit of Christmas is the beauty of being loved by God.”

The week before Christmas, Francis also told a group of schoolchildren that if we take away Jesus Christ from the holidays, Christmas is emptied of all significance.

In his words to a group of youngsters who came to the Vatican for the blessing of the figures of Jesus for their Nativity scenes, the Pope told them that only a Christ-centered celebration is the “real Christmas.”

Francis thanked the children for their “joyful presence” in Saint Peter’s Square, then invited them to pray at home in front of the manger scene with their families, allowing themselves to be attracted “by the tenderness of Jesus child, born poor and fragile among us, to give us his love.”

“This is the real Christmas,” Francis said. “If we take away Jesus, what is left of Christmas? An empty feast.”

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter

.