Celebrating Christmas, bishops highlight importance of unity

Ljubljana – In their Christmas message, Slovenian Catholic bishops wished everyone a blessed and comforting Christmas. “In the new year, we wish for more interconnectedness; to seek what unites us and brings us common good,” said Murska Sobota Bishop Peter Štumpf on Friday on behalf of all the bishops.

Štumpf said that the child in the manger was a saviour who banishes all darkness of ignorance and wickedness and gives us hope.

“The mercy of the child in the manger puts an end to the differences between us and fills us with the knowledge of God. This inclines us to change – not with threats and violence, but with justice and love for one another,” he said.

The bishops addressed their Christmas message to all, including their “brothers and sisters in the Evangelical Church and Orthodox Church, as well as to the members of other religions”.

Christians are celebrating Christmas today with many having spent Christmas Eve at midnight masses, where preventive measures were somewhat less strict compared to last year.

Archbishop of Maribor Alojzij Cvikl celebrated midnight mass in the Maribor cathedral, stressing that Christmas was not just about the glow of lights and decorations, but about experiencing and feeling God among people.

Saying Christmas Day mass in the Ljubljana cathedral, Archbishop of Ljubljana Stanislav Zore noted that with the arrival of the Son of God, no one was excluded and no land unworthy.

Any distinction between people, particularly on Christmas Day, is therefore “in blatant contradiction with the coming of the Son of God”. “It’s as if someone tossed the noise of street protests into a performance of a string orchestra,” he said.

The main Evangelical Christmas service was held in the Evangelical church in Kuzma in the north-east of the country, and was led by Evangelical minister Simona Prosič Filip.

In her sermon, she wished everyone that the light of Christmas would illuminate their souls and fill their hearts, and that “in the new year, may God watch over what you love and give you what you don’t have but want”.

While Roman Catholics and Protestants celebrate what is the second holiest day for Christians after Easter on 25 December, Orthodox Christians will celebrate it on 7 January due to the differences in the Julian and Gregorian calendars.

Many politicians have also taken a moment to send festive greetings to citizens, including President Borut Pahor, Prime Minister Janez Janša and Speaker Igor Zorčič.