(ANS – Vatican City) – This morning, Wednesday, December 15, Pope Francis received the promoters, organizers and artists of the Christmas Concert at the Vatican in audience, a concert sponsored by the Congregation for Catholic Education, and whose proceeds will be donated to the Pontifical Foundation “Scholas Occurrentes” and the Salesian Mission Office “Missioni Don Bosco” in Turin. Participating for the Salesians were: the Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, and Fr Daniel Antúnez, President of “Missioni Don Bosco”, together with Fr Simon Zakerian, Rector of the work of Al Fidar, in Lebanon, and Fr Danijel Vidović, in charge of reception at the Mother House of the Salesians in Turin.
“Christmas invites us to fix our gaze on the event that brought God’s tenderness to the world – a word that I emphasize, tenderness, we miss so much – and so it aroused and continues to arouse joy and hope. Tenderness, joy, hope: sentiments and attitudes that you artists also know how to revive and spread with your talents. Thank you,” began the Pontiff, immediately creating an atmosphere of great openness with the audience.
Then, after recalling the expressions of tenderness present in daily life (the caresses between fiancés, the care of parents for their children), as well as in the scene of the Nativity, the Pope spoke of the joy that is the fruit of love: that same joy that children, the recipients of the projects supported by the Christmas Concert, are always able to inspire.
“In the Christmas Concert you offer your artistic qualities to support educational projects, destined above all for children and young people in two countries that are in very precarious conditions: Haiti and Lebanon,” continued the Holy Father, who did not fail to give the Salesians a caress himself, adding: “Courageous, the Salesians, who always invent something to move forward. And this is a promise of life.”
With a glance at the many difficulties of today’s world, the Holy Father then remarked that “the pandemic has unfortunately worsened the educational gap for millions of children and adolescents excluded from all educational activities. And there are other ‘pandemics’ that prevent the spread of the culture of dialogue and inclusion.” Today, the culture of indifference and rejection prevails, unfortunately.
But in the face of this, “the light of Christmas makes us rediscover the sense of brotherhood and urges us to show solidarity with those in need. In art you immediately create brotherhood; with art, there are no friends and enemies, we are all equal, all friends, all brothers. Yours is a fruitful language.”
The Pontiff’s speech closed with an authentic hymn to education, which every Salesian could make his own: “Investing in education means helping children and young people to discover and appreciate the most important values and to have the courage to look to their future with hope. In education dwells the seed of hope: hope for peace and justice, hope for beauty and goodness; hope for social harmony.”
After the final thanks, the Pope took his leave of those present, wishing them all “a Merry Christmas of fraternity and peace.”
The Vatican Christmas Concert 2021, now in its 29th edition, takes place tomorrow, Thursday, December 16, at 19:00 (UTC+1) at the Auditorium Conciliazione in Rome, and will be aired on Christmas Eve on the Italian national broadcaster “Canale 5”, in prime time. The great international voices of pop, rock, soul, gospel, and opera will perform to celebrate Christmas together in a concert that will feature the most classic and evocative motifs of the holiday and that every year is also a spur to solidarity.
The full message of the Pope to the artists, organizers and promoters of the concert is available here.