02 January 2017
Pope Francis to all Bishops

Christian Joy Comes from a Call to “Take” and Protect Life

Let us not allow children to be deprived of joy! said Pope Francis, speaking personally to all the world’s Bishops on the day when the Church commemorates the Holy Innocents, the children, two-year-olds and younger, whom Herod ordered to murder in the hope of killing the baby Jesus. This call should not be edulcorated by the joy of Christmas—according to Francis, this temptation is real—thus “making Christmas into a lovely story that inspires warm feelings but robs us of the creative power of the Good News.”

The Pope recalled that the evangelists “do not indulge” in beautiful but unrealistic accounts and that Christmas is immersed in “tragedy and grief.” Living it today, therefore, means not forgetting the tears of the children, especially of the smallest, whose innocence is violated by illegal employment and slavery, prostitution, wars, forced immigration, gangs, mafias and merchants of death. The Holy Father then recalled in a particular way the stain of pedophilia within the Church, calling it a “sin that shames us” and urging “to adhere, clearly and faithfully, to ‘zero tolerance’.”

Faced with all this, the pastors’ vocation emerges: they must “protect life, help it be born and grow.” This is a call to protect the joy of Christmas and to live it within the reality, although painful, that the world is experiencing.

Joseph, who listened to the angel and defended the life of the baby Jesus, and Mary, Mother of Tenderness, show the way on this journey, which helps us to rediscover the authentic dimension of Christmas and to avoid letting ourselves to be deprived of joy.