People’s hearts yearn for God, not possessions, Pope Francis says

Pope Francis accepts a gift during an audience with a group of international performers at the Vatican Dec. 13, 2019. The performers, including Lionel Richie and Bonnie Tyler, were scheduled to perform at the Vatican's Christmas concert the next day. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Christmas season is a time to reflect on what life is all about, Pope Francis told an international group of performers.

"The time before Christmas calls us to ask ourselves, 'What is it that I am waiting for in my life? What is the great desire of my heart?' You too, with your songs, help awaken or reawaken this healthy human 'yearning' in the hearts of many people," he said.


The pope met Dec. 13 with the group of singers, songwriters, musicians and conductors the day before they were to perform in the Vatican's Paul VI hall for a benefit concert to help protect the Amazon and support indigenous communities there.

The lineup was scheduled to include: Lionel Richie, the U.S. Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter; Susan Boyle, who was a 2009 finalist on "Britain's Got Talent"; and Bonnie Tyler, whose songs "It's a Heartache" and "Total Eclipse of the Heart" are among the best-selling singles of all time.

[Don’t miss the latest news from the church and the world. Sign up for our daily newsletter.]

The Charleston Gospel Choir and several Italian performers were also part of the lineup for the 2019 "Christmas Concert in the Vatican," sponsored by the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education.

The pope told the performers and concert organizers that God is the author of the "yearning" people feel in their heart, "and he comes to meet us by this route."

God cannot be found along the path of "vain compulsion to acquire possessions or to keep up appearances. It is not there that God comes; no one will meet on that route. But surely he comes wherever there is hunger and thirst for peace, justice, freedom and love," the pope said.

"Dear artists, I thank you for all that you do. I wish you the best for your activities and your spiritual growth," the pope said, asking that their hearts be touched by the "mystery of Christmas, so that you can convey some of that same tenderness to those who listen to you."

Donations and proceeds from ticket sales were to go toward a Salesian project helping indigenous communities in northwestern Brazil and to a campaign of Scholas Occurrentes to raise awareness in 450,000 schools around the world promoting reforestation.

The show, recorded before a live audience Dec. 14, was to be broadcast by Italian television Christmas Eve.

Later in the day, Pope Francis was scheduled to take part -- via live video link-up -- in the launch of a U.S. headquarters of Scholas Occurrentes, which is Latin for "schools for encounter."

The global educational project, launched by Pope Francis in 2013, works to encourage social integration ‎and a culture of encounter among high school students through sports, arts and technology.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, the city's mayor, Eric Garcetti, along with about 30 Catholic high school students of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, were to join in from Los Angeles in the live videoconference as were Scholas students in Haiti, Japan and Spain.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

[Explore America’s in-depth coverage of Pope Francis.]


The latest from america

Tucker Redding, S.J. guides listeners through contemplative prayer in this 10-part mini-series "Imagine: A Guide to Jesuit Prayer."
Tucker Redding, SJFebruary 26, 2020
We are always tempted to make faith into something that we handle, not a way by which we surrender.
Terrance KleinFebruary 26, 2020
How perfectly the prophet Joel summons us to Lent with those two adverbs: “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart.”
Terrance KleinFebruary 26, 2020
Join us throughout the Lenten season as we offer a special presentation of the Gospel, Passion and Resurrection narratives. 
Isabelle SenechalFebruary 26, 2020