insidethevatican - Dec 24, 2009
This evening in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Christmas Eve Mass -- but not at midnight... Also, before Mass began, the Pope fell. His central Christmas Eve message: awake from our selfishness, and enter into communion with the one God
By Robert Moynihan, reporting from America
(Special note: My apologies. The prior newsflash was sent in error. Only after I sent it, then read over what I had sent, did I notice that I had sent and commented on last year's Christmas Eve homily (2008). So I am re-sending the same newsflash, but this time with the correct text: the Pope's 2009 Christmas Eve homily. Please forgive me! -- Robert Moynihan)
The Pope Falls
At the entrance to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome this evening, an "apparently unbalanced" woman approached Pope Benedict XVI, 82, and caused him to fall as he entered St Peter's Basilica to celebrate Christmas Eve Mass.
(Photo, Pope Benedict this evening in St. Peter's Basilica.)
The pilgrim, who apparently intended no harm but only wished to get close to the Pope, vaulted over a security barricade by the central aisle of the basilica as the Pope began leading the traditional procession to the altar, reached him, grabbed his vestments, and evidently caused him to lose his balance, pulling him to the ground.
The woman is in the custody of the Vatican police.
(Here is a link to a more complete report on the incident, with more details: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34588269/ns/world_news-world_faith)
The pontiff quickly recovered and went on to conduct the Mass, his fifth Christmas Eve celebration, without assistance.
French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray also fell in the crush and was given first aid, Vatican press spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., said.
Benedict, in gold and white vestments and mitre, showed no discomfort as he read out his Christmas Eve homily in Italian, decrying selfishness, which he said "makes us prisoners of our interests and our desires that stand against the truth and separate us from one another."