The pope used his Christmas Eve mass to rebuke those who are “hungry” for wealth and power and to denounce war, poverty and consumerism.

Addressing around 7,000 pilgrims, tourists and faithful Catholics at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, Pope Francis spoke of the humility of Jesus’ birth.

“While the animals feed in their stables, the men and women of our world, in their thirst for wealth and power, consume even their neighbors, their brothers and sisters,” he said.

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Pope Francis holds a statue of the Christ Child in St. Peter’s Basilica. Photo: AP

“How many wars have we seen? And in how many places, even today, are human dignity and freedom despised?

Without referring to a specific event, he said: “As always, the main victims of this human greed are the weak and the vulnerable.”

He added: “This Christmas too, as in the case of Jesus, a world greedy for money, power and pleasure does not make room for the little ones, for the many unborn children, poor and forgotten.

“I think above all of the children devoured by war, poverty and injustice.”

He asked those gathered not to be “overcome by fear, resignation or discouragement”, adding “so much consumption…wrapped the mystery” of Christmas that there was a danger that the sense of the day is forgotten.

“Jesus was born poor, lived poor and died poor,” the pope said, adding, “He didn’t talk about poverty so much as he lived it, to the end, for our good.” .

He ended by asking the congregation to “not let this Christmas go by without doing something good”.

Pope Francis, third from right, presides over Christmas Eve Mass, at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
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Saint Peter’s basilica. Photo: AP

Pope Francis left being pushed around in a wheelchair as he carried a statue of baby Jesus, surrounded by children holding flowers.

He placed the baby in a nativity scene in the basilica.

The Pope, 86, uses a wheelchair to cover longer distances, while using a cane for shorter ones.

His Mass is traditionally celebrated at midnight on Christmas Eve, but was moved to 7.30pm two years ago, to allow the congregation to return home before curfews imposed by the Italian government.

The Vatican has since maintained the early start time, despite lifting restrictions.

Pope Francis will deliver another speech on Christmas Day, where he will speak about world events and give a blessing.

Often known in Latin as Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world), the Christmas Day speech is often seen as an opportunity to review crises such as war, persecution and hunger.

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