Pope Francis calls on people to embrace humility at Christmas mass
Pope Francis leads the Christmas Holy Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica. Fabio Frustaci/ANSA via ZUMA Press/dpa
Pope Francis leads the Christmas Holy Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica. Fabio Frustaci/ANSA via ZUMA Press/dpa

Pope Francis extolled the virtues of humility during a sermon he gave at St Peter's Basilica in Rome on Friday evening to celebrate Christmas Eve.

"Let us not weep for greatness we do not have. Let us stop complaining ... and let us refrain from the greed that always leaves us unsatisfied," the head of the Catholic Church urged.

"Christmas is a time when each of us needs to find the courage to take off our armour, discard the trappings of our roles, our social recognition and the glitter of this world and adopt ... humility," the pontiff preached.

In his address, the Pope particularly emphasized that the church must reach out to the poor.

"Mission always involves passion for the poor, for those who are 'in need,' not only of things material, but also spiritual, emotional and moral. Those who hunger for bread and those who hunger for meaning are equally poor," he said.

"The Church is summoned to reach out to every form of poverty. The Church is called to preach the Gospel to everyone, since all of us are poor; all of us are, in one way or another, needy. But the Church also reaches out to the poor because we need them: we need their voice, their presence, their questions and criticisms," the pontiff added.

The 85-year-old celebrated Christmas Eve in accordance with pandemic restrictions for the second year in a row, something Vatican experts speculate he will not have been happy about.

About 1,500 faithful attended the mass, wearing masks and socially distanced as they sat around the central papal altar. With the strict limits on attendance numbers, the mass on Friday evening was a far cry from the usual Vatican Christmas celebrations.

Pope Francis leads the Christmas Holy Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica. Fabio Frustaci/ANSA via ZUMA Press/dpa
Pope Francis kisses Holy Jesus statue as he leads the Christmas Holy Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica. Fabio Frustaci/ANSA via ZUMA Press/dpa