Vatican City, December 25: In his Christmas eve mass, Pope Francis urged the world's 1.3 billion Catholics not to ignore the plight of migrants who are "driven from their land" because of leaders willing to shed "innocent blood".
"So many other footsteps are hidden in the footsteps of Joseph and Mary," the Argentine pontiff, himself the grandson of Italian migrants, told worshippers in Saint Peter's Basilica "We see the tracks of millions of persons who do not choose to go away but, driven from their land, leave behind their dear ones."
Many engulfed in the ongoing migration crisis were forced to flee from leaders "who, to impose their power and increase their wealth, see no problem in shedding innocent blood", said the 81-year-old, who will give his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" Christmas address today.
The pontiff's plea for "hope" came as fresh tensions simmered in the West Bank following Washington's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
The announcement by US President Donald Trump on December 6 unleashed demonstrators and clashes, including in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank where Christians will mark the birth of Jesus at a midnight mass.