Since the beginning of December, the pope has been asking people to respect government-imposed restrictions to address the pandemic.
“To avoid the risk of a crowd gathering, as disposed by the civil authorities, whom we need to obey.”
It was precisely to avoid large gatherings that the pope chose the early morning of Dec. 8 to visit this image of the Immaculate Conception in front of the Spanish Steps in Rome. He usually does this in the evening of that day surrounded by thousands of people.
Also in December, the pope made a surprise announcement dedicating an entire year to St. Joseph. It will conclude on Dec. 8, 2021.
“God entrusted to him His most precious treasures: Jesus and Mary, and he responded fully with faith, with courage, with tenderness, with a father's heart.”
As in previous years, Pope Francis celebrated Mass on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
One of the most interesting gifts the pope received this year was from the president of Slovakia. She gave him 10,000 coronavirus tests for homeless people and refugees.
This month, the pope participated in the UN's virtual “Climate Ambition Summit,” and he made an important commitment.
“On the one hand, Vatican City State commits to reducing net emissions to zero before 2050.”
As every year, the pope met with cardinals and bishops from the Vatican Curia to wish them a Merry Christmas.
He asked them to recognize scandals, but to avoid conflict and gossip.
“The first evil that conflict leads us to, and which we must try to avoid, is gossip. Let's pay attention to this. It's not an obsession of mine to speak against gossip.”
The Vatican concluded the year with the inauguration of two Christmas symbols.
The spruce this year is from Slovenia, from a forest where many martyrs died under communist totalitarianism in the 20th century.
The other symbol was this Nativity scene built in the 1960s. Among its characters was an astronaut, a reminder that Jesus was born for all people and all eras.