Vatican City, 7 December 2015 (VIS) – On Sunday afternoon, from the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father remotely lit up the Christmas tree installed by the Franciscans in the square in front of the lower Basilica of St. Francis in the Italian city of Assisi. “Jesus is always with us, even in difficult moments”, he said, also recalling the many migrants who have died in the sea. “They are with the Lord now. But He came to give us hope, and we must take this hope. He came to tell us that He is stronger than death, that He is greater than any evil. He came to tell us that He is merciful … and this Christmas I invite you to open your heart to mercy, to forgiveness”, even though, the Pope added, “it is not easy to forgive these tragedies”.
He thanked the Italian Coast Guard, praising the great example of solidarity given by the citizens of the south of Italy. To refugees, he said, “Raise your head, the Lord is near. And with Him there is strength, salvation, hope. The heart perhaps suffers; but keep your head high in the hope of the Lord”.