Pope decries 'glitter' of Christmas

2011-12-25 09:51

Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI decried the increasing commercialisation of Christmas as he celebrated Christmas Eve Mass on Saturday night, urging the faithful to look beyond the holiday's "superficial glitter" to discover its true meaning.

Benedict presided over the service in a packed St Peter's Basilica, kicking off an intense two weeks of Christmas-related public appearances that will test the 84-year-old pontiff's stamina amid signs that fatigue is starting to slow him down.

The Christmas Eve Mass was moved up to 22:00 from midnight several years ago to spare the pope a late night that is followed by an important Christmas Day speech.

In a new concession this year, Benedict processed down the basilica's central aisle on a moving platform to spare him the long walk.

Commercial celebration

Benedict appeared tired by the end of the Mass and a dry cough interrupted his homily.

In his homily, Benedict lamented that Christmas has become an increasingly commercial celebration that obscures the simplicity of the message of Christ's birth.

"Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light," he said.

It was the second time in as many days that Benedict has pointed to the need to rediscover faith to confront the problems facing the world today. In his end-of-year meeting with Vatican officials on Thursday, Benedict said Europe's financial crisis was largely "based on the ethical crisis looming over the Old Continent".

Benedict officially kicked off Christmas a few hours before the evening Mass, lighting a candle in his studio window overlooking St Peter's Square in a sign of peace, as crowds gathered to witness the unveiling of the Vatican's larger-than-life sized nativity scene.

Tight security

Security was tight for the evening Mass, as it has been in recent years. There were no repeats of the 2008 and 2009 Christmas Eve security breaches, in which a woman with a history of psychiatric problems and wearing a telltale red sweat shirt jumped the wooden security barrier along the basilica's central aisle and lunged for the pope.

In 2008, the pope's security detail blocked her from getting to Benedict. But in 2009, she managed to grab Benedict's vestments and pulled him to the ground. The pope was unhurt and continued along with the service, but a French cardinal who was nearby fell and broke his hip.

On Sunday, Benedict will deliver his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" speech, Latin for "to the city and the world," from the central loggia of St Peter's overlooking the piazza.

Usually, the speech is a survey of sorts of the hardships and wars confronting humanity. He's also due to deliver Christmas greetings in dozens of languages.

Next weekend, he'll preside over a New Year's Eve vespers service, followed by a New Year's Day Mass.

A few days later he'll celebrate Epiphany Mass followed by his traditional baptizing of babies in the Vatican's frescoed Sistine Chapel.

  • goyougoodthing - 2011-12-25 10:13

    And I decry a Pope who tells poor Angolans that abortion is a sin and priests who touch children get moved not fired and defrocked.

      ubhejane - 2011-12-25 10:16

      Yes and I wonder when the world will be saved from the hands of this evil religion. How many more boys will be damaged for life before governments ban this cult.

      goyougoodthing - 2011-12-25 10:38 The fakery that is Catholicism and Christianity

      ubhejane - 2011-12-25 11:31

      @goyougoodthing. Let us be scientific about this cult and then some pieces of the lie they live, might fall into place. Let us assume Mary did in fact fall pregnant without intercourse (which we know isn't possible unless someone's semen landed somewhere by accident) but the purposes of their rendition of their truth, let us assume no man was involved. The "boy" that she brought into this world, would then have only her chromosomes and that would make him a very feminine boy, if in fact he was a boy at all. But undoubtedly he would have been gay. Girl dressed up as a boy. Does all of this paint the start of the Catholic religion and it being built on the foundations of homosexuality? Would this explain why for millennia they have had this extreme fondness of young boys and violating children's bodies?

  • Horace - 2011-12-25 10:21

    The pope and the organisation he purports to lead, have no credibility any more - so who would listen to their ramblings about the 25th December (save for a few 'die-hards'). Anyway, Christ was not actually born on 25th December!?

      OzzyIn - 2011-12-25 18:32

      Atheitis, something we do agree on.

  • claymore - 2011-12-25 10:23

    And the Pope led the service dressed like a Christmas tree. Good example, that...

      goyougoodthing - 2011-12-25 10:33

      A subconscious acknowledgement of the pagan nature of Christmas and the story of Jesus really being the story of Mithras.

      Jeffrey - 2011-12-25 13:30

      Yeah, you gotta laugh. Pope rocks up in all his gold glitter, surrounded by acolytes of cardinals in robes and finery that cost a fortune, and he's got the gall to complain about the commercialisation of Christmas. Catholicism really is the most hypocritical branch of all the Christian cults.

  • goyougoodthing - 2011-12-25 10:30

    Hey Pope, care to remember William Tyndale, the guy who you lot killed for translating the Book of Spells into English so that the masses could read the babel of the bible?

      goyougoodthing - 2011-12-25 11:19

      I love the thumbs down but no argument to back them up. The church continues to kill people who stand in their way.

  • ludlowdj - 2011-12-25 10:58

    The Pope and the Catholic Church would do well to keep quiet. The Catholic church is the spawn of Satan and is responsible for more crimes against humanity than any other organisation in the history of the world. The Pope would do well to remember that God"if there is one" most definitely is not in the Catholic church and actively preached against the organisation of the church as a body of control

      Jeffrey - 2011-12-25 13:34

      I don't know if the Roman Catholic Church is responsible for any more deaths than the cult of Islam. They are both something that the world could do without As Christopher Hitchens put it: "Religion poisons everything".

      goyougoodthing - 2011-12-25 16:09

      I think the Catholics are ahead. They are older by some 500 years. Had a glorious time taking out pagans, witches, scientists, thinkers, women, other religions and nations for almost 2000 years.

  • Burtfred - 2011-12-25 11:21

    Men in glittering frocks and fancy hats and carrying golden staffs can't really criticize commercial Christmas. What a load of rubbish the Catholic church has become.

      ubhejane - 2011-12-25 11:37

      Always has been Burtfred. Good morning and why have you been so quiet lately? We missed you on here.

  • wynandjsmit - 2011-12-25 11:26

    Tell the Pope to get a life!! Christmas is for family, friends and goodwill, in whatever way. I will listen to him again when he OK's birth control and enters the 20th century.

      ubhejane - 2011-12-25 11:36

      Wynand they don't need birth control. What are you talking about. Those priests and pope in drag can never fall pregnant! That is the big perk of being a Catholic priest. You sodomise boys and never have to worry about the consequences.

      Juann Strauss - 2011-12-25 17:34

      We are in the 21st century.

  • renesongs - 2011-12-25 12:25

    Jeez wake up and smell the coffee Christmas has been the primary marketing event of the year completely outshining both Easter and St Valentines day for the past 200 years what the hell has religion got to do with it?

  • Phoenix - 2011-12-25 12:35

    And what would this 'true meaning' be? The REAL true meaning which is that the catholic church stole this day from pagan solstice festivals?

  • Gargmel - 2011-12-25 13:25

    The Catholic church is the original "evil corporation". The other religions are not much better.

  • Alan - 2011-12-25 19:07

    That is rich, coming from the "King of Bling".....

  • Zebelon - 2011-12-26 11:05

    The first "glitter" to go should be the daily sight that meets visitors at the Vatican, all the gold and gilded objects found in chapels and other sprawling rooms that attract visitors. Why not paint them black?

  • bevorster - 2011-12-28 01:06

    cristmas is the worsed day of the year

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