Pope Francis tells Christian Iraqi refugees they are 'like Jesus' in their exile

by Staff |

(Reuters/Claudio Peri)Pope Francis looks on as he leads the synod of bishops in Paul VI's hall at the Vatican October 6, 2014.

VATICAN CITY (Christian Examiner) -- Pope Francis celebrated Christmas Eve by holding a late-night Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. The Pontiff also called Christian Iraqi refugees who were forced to flee their homes by violent Muslim extremists.

Pope Francis drew comparisons between Jesus' plight and the plight of those house in the tent camp at Ankawa, according to the Associated Press. Like baby Jesus in the manger, they have been uprooted from their homes and have to make accommodations elsewhere.

"You're like Jesus on this night, and I bless you and am close to you," he told the refugees in a call provided by TV2000. "I embrace you all and wish for you a holy Christmas."

The mass comes after the Catholic leader spoke about the "sickness" of greed and those who abuse power during his Christmas speech Tuesday. The leader of the Catholic church was addressing the Roman Curia, which has 3,000 members and helps govern the religion.

"A Curia that is not self-critical, that does not stay up-to-date, that does not seek to better itself, is an ailing body. ... It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks he will live for all eternity, and of those who transform themselves into masters and believe themselves superior to others, rather than at their service," the Pope said.

He also spoke about the kind of "spiritual Alzheimer's" which leads to skewed morality instead of relying on the Holy Spirit for guidance.

"Spiritual Alzheimer's disease, or rather forgetfulness of the history of salvation, of the personal history with the Lord, of the 'first love': this is a progressive decline of spiritual faculties, that over a period of time causes serious handicaps, making one incapable of carrying out certain activities autonomously, living in a state of absolute dependence on one's own often imaginary views," Francis continued.