Pope blasts 'fairy tale' images of Christmas
Francis talks of incarnation that connects Bethlehem and Cross26 December, 16:28
The Argentine pontiff criticised "the false image of Christmas, a fairy-tale, mushy image that does not exist in the Gospel".
He said that a more challenging "authentic sense of incarnation" connects "Bethlehem and the Cross".
"Divine salvation implies the fight against sin, passing through the narrow door of the Cross," Francis added.
"This is the road that Jesus clearly indicated to his disciples, as the Gospel testifies today".
Francis, who has won over the faithful with his humble, simple, spontaneous style and focus on the poorest and weakest since being elected in March, spoke about returning to the real spirit of the nativity several times in the run-up to his first Christmas as pope. On Monday, for example, he called for a renewed focus on God at Christmas, rather than spending and partying.
"Come and let's open our souls and may our souls be watchful in these days as we wait (for Christmas)," the pope said during Mass at Saint Martha's House, the Vatican guest house where he lives after spurning the luxury of the papal apartments.
"Watch what happens in us. See whether the Lord comes or does not come. See whether there is room for the Lord or there is room for parties, for shopping, for making noise," added Francis.
"Is our soul open, like the holy mother Church is open and the Virgin Mary was open? "Or is our soul closed and have we attached a very polite sign to the door that reads 'please do not disturb'?".