Life, Middle East

Bethlehem holds Christmas Eve mass with thin attendance

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas does not attend mass due to pandemic

Qais Abu Samra   | 25.12.2020
Bethlehem holds Christmas Eve mass with thin attendance The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa officiates the Christmas Mass at the Church of Nativity, believed as the birthplace of Jesus, in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 24, 2020. Christmas celebrations began on Thursday, Dec. 24, in Bethlehem city, southern West Bank, amid strict measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency

BETHLEHEM CITY, Palestine

The Christmas Midnight Mass was held in the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem city with limited participation amid the pandemic.

A dozen residents and a small group of religious officials attended the mass.

It was headed by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa. He said: "We celebrate this year in difficult circumstances imposed by the coronavirus pandemic."

"The Christians of Palestine are living in difficult conditions amid unknown future, we ask God to guide the politicians for the good," he added.

This year under the coronavirus lockdown Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas along with Palestinian top officials and ambassadors to Palestine did not attend the mass.

In a televised speech, Abbas said: "Despite the practices of the [Israeli] occupation and settlers, we are steadfast and confident of victory."

Abbas also expressed sorrow for not being able to attend the mass and prayed for the protection of the Palestinian people from the virus.

Bethlehem is an ancient and historic city that is sacred for Christians around the world as it is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ. 

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara.

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