Pope Francis has ushered in Christmas by saying God loves everyone – “even the worst of us,” the BBC reports.
He was speaking to thousands of people during Christmas Eve Mass in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.
“You may have mistaken ideas, you may have made a complete mess of things… but the Lord continues to love you,” the Argentine pontiff said.
This will be interpreted by some as a reference to Church scandals, including sex abuse, our correspondent says.
“Christmas reminds us that God continues to love us all, even the worst of us. To me, to you, to each of us, he says today: ‘I love you and I will always love you, for you are precious in my eyes,'” the 83-year-old pontiff said.
“God does not love you because you think and act the right way. He loves you, plain and simple. His love is unconditional; it does not depend on you.”
And the Pope also alluded to the clerical abuse and financial scandals afflicting the Church.
“Whatever goes wrong in our lives, whatever doesn’t work in the Church, whatever problems there are in the world, will no longer serve as an excuse.”
Pope Francis will return to St Peter’s Basilica later on Christmas Day to deliver the traditional papal message to the world.