Pope Francis' Christmas Message: 'God Loves Us All, Even the Worst of Us'

Pope Francis has delivered his annual Christmas Day blessing at St. Peter's Square following his annual Christmas Mass sermon delivered on Tuesday at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the papal enclave within Rome.

The leader of the Catholic Church addressed thousands from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica on Christmas with a message about the overpowering "greater light of Christ."

"There is darkness in human hearts, yet the light of Christ is greater still. There is darkness in personal, family and social relationships, but the light of Christ is greater. There is darkness in economic, geopolitical and ecological conflicts, yet greater still is the light of Christ," he said, according to the official website of the Vatican.

The pope spoke blessings over different parts of the world in conflict, including the American continent, saying: "May the tiny Babe of Bethlehem [Jesus] bring hope to the whole American continent, where a number of nations are experiencing a time of social and political upheaval."

He continued to pray blessings over war torn parts of the Middle East, including Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, asking for Christ to "bring his light to the many children suffering from war and conflicts in the Middle East and in various countries of the world."

"May he inspire governments and the international community to find solutions to allow the peoples of that region to live together in peace and security, and put an end to their unspeakable sufferings," he added.

The pontiff blessed those facing conflict and violence in the midst of political and social tensions in Venezuela and parts of Africa, including in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.

"May he [Christ] bless the efforts of those who spare no effort to promote justice and reconciliation and to overcome the various crises and the many forms of poverty that offend the dignity of each person," he said.

The pope's Christmas blessing follows his Christmas Mass service held on the evening of December 24 at St Peter's Basilica. The service began with a liturgy known as the "kalenda" which is the Christmas proclamation of Jesus' birth. The pope processed into St. Peter's Basilica and unveiled a life-sized statue of baby Jesus, kissing it and blessing it with incense once he reached the transept of the building, The Catholic Herald reports.

Twelve children, ranging from 5 to 11 years old from Italy, Japan, Venezuela, Kenya, Uganda, the Philippines and Iraq, laid flowers by the statue before accompanying the pope to the basilica's nativity scene, according to The Catholic Herald.

The pope's sermon spoke about the "unconditional love of God" which "changes lives, renews history, liberates from evil, fills hearts with peace and joy," the Vatican website states.

"It is divine love, the love that changes lives, renews history, liberates from evil, fills hearts with with peace and joy. Tonight the love of God has been revealed to us: it is Jesus.

"Christmas reminds us that God continues to love us all, even the worst of us. His love is unconditional; it does not depend on you. You may have mistaken ideas, you may have made a complete mess of things, but the Lord continues to love you. His love does not change. It is not fickle; it is faithful. It is patient. This is the gift we find at Christmas," the pope said.

The pontiff encouraged the masses to accept this love as a free gift from God and to give thanks in return.

"Often we live our lives with such little gratitude...Let us receive the gift that is Jesus, in order then to become gift like Jesus...once we stop trying to change others but try to change ourselves and to make of our life a gift," he added.

The pope also touched on the light of God during the Christmas Eve service.

"...if you think your heart is poor in love, this night [December 24] is for you. The grace of God has appeared, to shine forth in your life. Accept it and the light of Christmas will shine forth in you," the pope concluded in his sermon.

Pope Francis, also known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, is the 266th pope of the Catholic Church. He was elected on March 13, 2013.

Pope Francis Vatican City 2018
Pope Francis waves to worshipers upon his arrival for the weekly general audience on August 28, 2019 at St Peter's square in the Vatican. Getty Images
Pope Francis' Christmas Message: 'God Loves Us All, Even the Worst of Us' | News