Pope Francis: Christmas Has Been ‘Taken Hostage by Worldliness’

REUTERS/Tony Gentile
REUTERS/Tony Gentile

In his ongoing campaign against the commercialization of the Christian feast of the Nativity, Pope Francis is calling on Christians to liberate Christmas, saying it has been taken “hostage” by worldliness.

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

This is not the pope’s first swipe at the over-commercialization of the Christmas celebrations.

This week, Francis told a group of schoolchildren that if Jesus Christ is removed from the holidays, Christmas is emptied of all significance.

Addressing 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.”

The pope 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.”

The pope is not alone in thinking that Christmas has become too commercialized.

Last month, an Irish priest made news by proposing that Christians should abandon the word “Christmas” since it has become so completely secularized.

Although he proposed no alternative, Father Desmond O’Donnell said that Christians should replace the word “Christmas” with something more meaningful, saying that Christmas has been hijacked by “Santa and reindeer.”

“We’ve lost Christmas, just like we lost Easter, and should abandon the word completely,” Father O’Donnell said. “We need to let it go; it’s already been hijacked and we just need to recognise and accept that.”

A recent study by the Pew Research Center revealed that about 55 percent of U.S. adults say they celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, with 56 percent believing the religious dimension of Christmas is less emphasized now than it was in the past.

While nine-in-ten Americans intend to celebrate the holiday, about half say they plan to attend church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Nonetheless, Americans’ belief in even the miraculous events surrounding Christmas remains significant.

Pew found that more than half of Americans still believe in the essential elements of the Nativity story surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, with a full 66 percent of U.S. adults affirming that Jesus was miraculously born of a virgin.

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