A Syrian refugee child in his tent on Lesbos, Greece. Reuters photo
In this fraught season replete with dark and light, Pope Francis marked his fifth Christmas by urging peace and equity in the Middle East, honoring today's over 65 million refugees and migrants, and calling for "a new social imagination (in) which none have to feel that there is no room for them on this earth.” "So many other footsteps are hidden in the footsteps of Joseph and Mary," he said. "We see the tracks of entire families forced to set out in our own day...who do not choose to go away, but driven from their land, leave behind their dear ones.”
Noting "the winds of war...blowing in our world," Francis listed the young victims of multiple conflicts - Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Congo, Venezuela - before citing a "document of citizenship” that comes from God, and should embrace all. “Jesus knows well the pain of not being welcomed and how hard it is not to have a place to lay one’s head," he said. "May our hearts not be closed as they were in the homes of Bethlehem.” Today, many hearts have opened to help - here, here, here, here - but much need remains. A choir of 32 refugee women and girls who survived offer moving testimony to the stakes. We wish grace and hope to them, and you.