Pope Francis sends Christmas greetings to Oriental Christians

Pope Francis greets Christians of the Oriental Churches, both Catholic and Orthodox, who are preparing to celebrate Christmas according to the Julian calendar.

By Devin Watkins

In his greetings following the Angelus prayer on Wednesday, Pope Francis recalled that Orthodox Christians and Eastern Rite Catholics are preparing to celebrate Christmas on 7 January.

The Pope sent his well-wishes and prayed for all Oriental Churches.

“I offer my most heartfelt wishes for a Holy Christmas in the light of Christ, our peace and our hope,” he said.

Missionary Childhood Day

Pope Francis also noted that 6 January marks Missionary Childhood Day, which celebrates the fact that all Christians, even very young ones, are missionaries by virtue of Baptism.

The Pope said many children throughout the world are taking part in the Day.

“I thank each of them, and I encourage them to be joyful witnesses to Jesus, seeking always to instill fraternity in the midst of their agemates,” he said.

The yearly Missionary Childhood Day was established in 1950 by Pope Pius XII as a Day dedicated to Holy Childhood.

According to the Pontifical Society of the Holy Childhood, the theme for this year’s iteration is “witness.”

Children, reads a press statement released on Wednesday, “are young missionary disciples who evangelize through prayer and testimony in the home, at school, and in the places where they encounter their agemates.”

At home especially, it reads, children and parents participate in a mutual witnessing to Christ. “Parents witness their faith to children, and children give testimony to their parents through their desire to think about others.”

Three Kings’ Day parades

Finally, Pope Francis greeted participants in the Three Kings’ Day Parades being held in various ways in cities in Poland, as well as other nations.

He called these parades “events for evangelization and solidarity.”