Perhaps the most dramatic Christmas Day example of the “Francis effect” came not in the Vatican but across town, in a Roman detention center for poor and undocumented immigrants. A four-day hunger strike, which featured angry Muslims from Morocco and Tunisia sewing their mouths shut, was suspended because the protestors were persuaded that Francis could “make us heard.”
All Things Catholic: After you’ve been in the Vaticanology business for a while, it’s hard to be surprised by the occasionally tone-deaf questions people ask.
In yet another gesture of outreach to ordinary people, Pope Francis starting in January will invite parishioners from Roman parishes to join him for his daily morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, the Vatican residence where he lives.
The news was first reported yesterday by the Italian paper Corriere della Sera and confirmed today by the Vatican Press Office.
There are roughly 320 parishes in the Rome diocese.
The following is an NCR translation of the brief statement:
Pope Francis addressed anti-Christian persecution today, on the day after attacks on two Christian churches in Baghdad left at least 38 dead. He called for a moment of silence in honor of victims of such violence and said it must be “denounced and eliminated.”
His remarks came in an Angelus address on the feast of St. Stephen, the day after Christmas, and they marked the latest reference to anti-Christian persecution in what has become an emerging theme for Francis.
Though Pope Francis himself may not have stepped outside the bounds of the usual Christmas events yesterday, his influence clearly did, as perceptions of his sympathy to immigrants reportedly helped suspend a protest that had seen poor migrants in Rome stitch their lips together, refuse to eat, and sleep outside despite freezing cold at night.
Those gestures were intended to highlight what migrants describe as inhuman treatment at their Rome detention center, formally known as the “Center for Identification and Expulsion”.
Christians regard Jesus as the Prince of Peace, and popes generally use their Christmas day Urbi et Orbi address, “to the city and the world,” to express hopes for peace in various global hot spots.
Francis continued that tradition today, beginning with the conflict in Syria and then going on to mention the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Nigeria, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In his first Christmas homily as pope, Francis tonight underlined the “vulnerability” embraced by God in choosing to become a poor human being in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
Pope Francis celebrated the Vatican’s traditional Christmas vigil Mass this evening in St. Peter’s Basilica, with the Vatican reporting that it had received a record number of requests from people seeking to take part in the Mass.
An unidentified 51-year-old man died Sunday, three days after setting himself on fire in St. Peter's Square.
Italian news reports said the man, who had third-degree burns on almost 50 percent of his body, died at Rome's Sant'Eugenio Hospital.
At about 8:30 a.m. Dec. 19, the man entered St. Peter's Square carrying a bottle of gasoline. At the end of the colonnade near Piazza Pio XII, he doused himself with the fuel and lit himself aflame.
The figures in the world-famous Nativity scenes of Naples are all meant to illustrate "the permanent coming of the Lord into history."
On Monday, Pope Francis visited his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, to deliver best wishes for the Christmas season. The Vatican released the following statement on the meeting on Monday evening Rome time: