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Pope praises sweet Polish Christmas tradition, now for Ukraine

Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in Paul VI Hall

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 12/21/22

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As Pope Francis greeted pilgrims at the end of the December 21 general audience, he wished the Polish-speaking group a Holy Christmas.

“According to your tradition,” he said, “on Christmas Eve you leave an empty place at the table for an unexpected guest. This year it will be occupied by the multitude of refugees from Ukraine, to whom you have opened the doors of your homes with great generosity.”

“May the Son of God, born in Bethlehem, fill each of you, your families and those you help with love. Bring peace to all people of good will,” he prayed.

Children who cannot smile

Then addressing the various language groups, he reflected how this season of welcoming the Child Jesus makes us think of Ukrainian little ones.

Pope Francis receives a gift from Yuliya Fedosiuk, wife of Azov battalion fighter Arseniy Fedosiuk
Pope Francis receives a gift from Yuliya Fedosiuk, wife of Azov battalion fighter Arseniy Fedosiuk.

He said:

And then, we think – speaking of the Child Jesus – of the many children of Ukraine who are suffering, suffering so much, from this war. In this feast of God becoming a child, let us think of the Ukrainian children.

When I find them here, the majority cannot smile, and when a child loses the ability to smile, it is serious. These children carry on them the tragedy of that war that is so inhuman, so harsh.

Let us think of the Ukrainian people this Christmas: without light, without heating, without the main things to survive, and let us pray to the Lord to bring them peace as soon as possible.

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