In his Christmas Eve homily Thursday, Pope Francis noted the simplicity of Jesus' birth as he rebuked what he called societies' intoxication with consumerism, pleasure, abundance, and wealth. Christians around the world joyfully prepared to recall the birth of Jesus. But in his only public Christmas Mass, in the splendor of St. Peter's Basilica, the pope counter-weighted his joy with a lament for people's excesses and what he described as a "culture of indifference, which not infrequently turns ruthless." Francis said Jesus "calls us to act soberly, in other words, in a way that is simple, balanced, consistent, capable of seeing, and doing what is essential."
Referring to Jesus' birth in a Bethlehem stable, the pope said the child was "born into the poverty of this world; there was no room in the inn for him and his family." Francis also sounded a cry to right injustices. "In a world which all too often is merciless to the sinner and lenient to the sin, we need to cultivate a strong sense of justice," he said. Youngsters from countries that Francis has visited as pontiff, including Sri Lanka, the Philippines, the United States, left floral bouquets around a baby Jesus statue near the central altar after Francis unveiled and gently kissed the statue. On Friday, tens of thousands are expected to crowd St. Peter's Square to hear the traditional Christmas day speech. The full text of Francis' homily is here. (Read more Pope Francis stories.)