Pope Francis says "Let's have a humbler Christmas, with humbler gifts. Let's send what we save to the Ukrainian people, who are in need, who suffer..."
After his Catechesis at the General Audience, Pope Francis, made asked everyone to spend less at Christmas and donate to the Ukrainian people. He also suggested strengthening spiritual preparations for the season.
I extend a cordial welcome to Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet you young volunteers who have gathered here on National Civil Service Day and I encourage them to be witnesses of goodness, tenderness and gratuitous love with everyone, especially with the most fragile people. And I want to say one thing: I have found three very beautiful things in Italian society, in the Italian Church.
One of these is volunteering. You have a strong, strong voluntary service! Go ahead with this spirituality of volunteering which makes us help many, one with the other and also unites us. I am pleased to welcome the Choir of Oristano with their Archbishop, the National Association of Sailors and the Association "Our angels in Paradise" of Favara.
As usual, my thoughts go to the young, the sick, the elderly and the newlyweds - there are so many! To all of you I point out the figure of St John of the Cross, priest and Doctor of the Church, whose liturgical memory we are celebrating today. Following the example of this great spiritual teacher, bear witness in your daily existence to your adherence to God's will. And let us renew our closeness to the martyred Ukrainian people, persevering in fervent prayer for these brothers and sisters of ours who are suffering so much.
Brothers and sisters, I tell you: there is so much suffering in Ukraine, so much! And I would like to draw attention a little to next Christmas, including the holidays. It's nice to celebrate Christmas, have a party… but let's lower the level of Christmas expenses a little – that's what they're called. Let's have a humbler Christmas, with humbler gifts. We send what we save to the Ukrainian people, who are in need, who suffer so much; they go hungry, feel the cold and many die because there are no doctors or nurses close at hand. Let's not forget: a Christmas, yes; at peace with the Lord, yes, but with the Ukrainians in the heart. And we make that concrete gesture for them.
Inviting you all to intensify your spiritual preparation for Christmas which is now imminent, I cordially bless you and now let us all pray the Our Father together.