At the Christmas Eve Mass in the Vatican, Pope Francis criticized human “hunger for wealth and power,” ostensibly referring to the crisis in Ukraine and other wars.
He was speaking to pilgrims at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
Francis, 86, entered the church in a wheelchair and remained near the altar for the majority of Saturday evening’s Mass.
During his service, he made no mention of the Russian-Ukraine war.
During the early phases of Russia’s full-scale invasion, which began on February 24, the Argentine pontiff was highly criticized in Ukraine for making what many Ukrainians perceived to be cautious remarks, without outright criticizing Russia.
In June, he suggested that the war was “somehow either triggered or not stopped”.
However, the Pope eventually condemned what he called Russian troops’ actions.
On Sunday, Francis will deliver his traditional Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) blessing and speech to Catholics in the piazza below and around the world from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica.
In the United Kingdom, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is set to declare that the birth of Jesus Christ provides “unconquerable hope” amid war and suffering around the world, as well as the cost of living crises at home.
Reflecting on his recent visit to Ukraine, and looking ahead to his forthcoming visit to South Sudan with the Pope and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion is also expected to appeal to the leaders of both South Sudan and Russia to bring an end to violence and “bring hope to millions”.