Holy Father, thank you for the beautiful celebration of the Eucharist here ,where we are so close to the Grotto of the Nativity.
I see a total harmony between your person, your way of leading, your way of addressing the world and the message of Bethlehem. Bethlehem: simplicity, openness, communion, the Divine who becomes incarnate, humbles himself and takes on our human form to be able to love us more.
It is our wish that your visit will revive in human hearts, the Christmas message, the peace and the warmth of the grotto of Bethlehem.
We fervently hope that your pilgrimage may help each person to experience the greatness of the humility of Bethlehem, to recognise the futility of arrogance and the beauty of childhood and innocence.
So many children today have been reduced by the great of this world to a life of misery. They are often abandoned, homeless, without parents, and are forced to run around the dusty streets of refugee camps, as they have neither roof nor home to protect them.
Many are young people and children, friends of the child Jesus, who hear the same words spoken to Mary and Joseph “there is no room in the inn”. There is no place for them, neither in the family policy that decides their fate.
There is no place for children in legislations. Neither do they take part in negotiations for a peace that never finds its way to reach us, a peace that fails to break through the walls of fear and distrust that surround this city. In the footsteps of the Divine Child, our young people have experienced migration, hunger, cold, and also often, the demolition of their homes.
Together with you Most Holy Father, today we beg the child Jesus, to expand His grotto to welcome and accommodate the many children who are victims of violence and injustice. How can we forget to pray for the many prisoners in overcrowded prisons…
They hunger for a piece of bread, yearn for justice and peace, destitute for a welcoming home. We are not yet done with the present-day Herods, who fear peace more than war, who dread the prosperity of families and who are prepared to continue killing.
Most Holy Father, your arrival here was preceded by your reputation as a man of God, as a true leader who knows how to govern, and a true brother for all of us. We, the descendants of the first shepherds, in response to the invitation of the angels, we are with you in Bethlehem to adore the Child and to pay tribute to His parents.
Holy Father, on behalf of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries, on behalf of the Palestinian people and of the many dear pilgrims who feel at home in Bethlehem, we thank you for your presence with us today. And together with all the children of the various centres in Bethlehem, the healthy and the handicapped, we assure you of our prayers and of our fidelity.
Bethlehem, May 25, 2014