The Vatican celebrated the holiday season with the traditional lighting of the tree in St. Peter’s Square – and a reminder from the pope about what happened when the “lights” of God were turned off in past atheistic regimes. The same day, the Vatican released a statement from the pope again opposing marriage equality.
When the tree was lit Dec. 14, singers from the Molise area sang traditional local songs, and a Vatican band played Christmas melodies.
The celebration marked the start of a busy Christmas season for Benedict that will culminate with Mass on Christmas Eve in St. Peter’s Basilica, a speech on Christmas Day and another Mass on New Year’s Day to mark the Catholic Church’s world day of peace.
The world day of peace message was released on Dec. 14. In it, the pope calls for policymakers to think of themselves as peacemakers in economic and social policy and warns that abortion and gay marriage are threats to peace.
“Those who insufficiently value human life, and in consequence, support among other things the liberalization of abortion perhaps do not realize that in this way they are proposing the pursuit of a false peace,” since peace presupposes protecting the weakest, he wrote.
Laws granting legal status to gay couples, he said, “actually harm and help destabilize marriage” by obscuring its specific nature as a union between man and woman that forms the basis of society. The passage, in the message, reads, “There is also a need to acknowledge and promote the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the face of attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different types of union; such attempts actually harm and help to destabilize marriage, obscuring its specific nature and its indispensable role in society.
“These principles are not truths of faith, nor are they simply a corollary of the right to religious freedom. They are inscribed in human nature itself, accessible to reason and thus common to all humanity. The Church’s efforts to promote them are not therefore confessional in character, but addressed to all people, whatever their religious affiliation. Efforts of this kind are all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, since this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, with serious harm to justice and peace.”
Benedict also renewed his call for a new world financial order guided by ethical and moral decisions, saying the profit-at-all-cost mentality of the past was selfish and destructive.