- (PHOTO) Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi
Pope Benedict XVI delivered his annual Christmas eve message in St Peter's Basilica Monday in which he urged the faithful to find more time for God in their busy and technology-driven lives.
Appearing before 100,000 churchgoers, the Pontiff, at times speaking with a wavering voice, called on the faithful to assess their priorities and to ensure that more time is also set aside for children, the poor, and each other.
"The great moral question of our attitude toward the homeless, toward refugees and migrants takes on a deeper dimension: Do we really have room for God when he seeks to enter under our roof? Do we have time and space for him?" the Pope said, according to the Associated Press.
"The faster we can move, the more efficient our time-saving appliances become, the less time we have. And God? The question of God never seems urgent," he went on.
The 85-year-old Pontiff began the ceremony two hours ahead of the formerly traditional hour of midnight, allegedly to preserve his strength. Trumpets blared
to symbolize Christian joy over the news of Christ's birth in Bethlehem.
In his message the Pope focused on the importance of God in people's lives while condemning society's self-serving fixation on consumerism and materialism.
"Our time is already completely full...There is no room for [God]. Not even in our feelings and desires is there any room for him. We want ourselves. We want what we can seize hold of, we want happiness that is within our reach, we want our plans and purposes to succeed," he lambasted. "We are so 'full' of ourselves that there is no room left for God. And that means there is no room for others either, for children, for the poor, for the stranger."
The Pope went on to acknowledge "all those who live and suffer" in the Middle East today, specifically asking the faithful to pray for strife-torn countries like "Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and their neighbors." He also called for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Pontiff will deliver his annual Christmas day speech at noon on Tuesday from the basilica's central balcony.