pope francis
The Mass was commemorating the feast of Our Lady Guadalupe. It commemorates the appearance of the Virgin Mary to a young man, Saint Juan Diego, in 1531 in Mexico City
The Pope has offered a harrowing vision of the future, saying he has seen signs of an even darker time ahead for humanity.

At a Mass at the Vatican, the Pope, 85, said on Sunday that he has a dire vision for the world with 'omens of even greater destruction and desolation'.

The Mass was commemorating the feast of Our Lady Guadalupe, which fell on Monday. It commemorates the appearance of the Virgin Mary to a young man, Saint Juan Diego, in 1531 in Mexico City. The day is a national holiday in Mexico.

pope francis
On Thursday, the pope appeared at the Spanish Steps in the centre of Rome during an annual Christmas visit (pictured) to venerate a statue of the Virgin Mary. While praying for peace in Ukraine, he choked up, and struggled to finish his sermon
But despite the current difficult times for the world - including wars, particularly Russia's conflict in Ukraine, the rising cost of living, poverty, famine, and an international energy crisis - the Pope said he has a vision that things will get worse.

In his homily, the pontiff said 'it is a bitter time, filled with the rumbling of war, growing injustice, famine, poverty and suffering,' but at this 'bleak and disconcerting' time, there are 'omens of even greater destruction and desolation'.

He added that at Christmas, God's 'divine love and his coming down to us tell us that this too is a propitious time of salvation, in which the Lord, through the Virgin Mother, continues to give us his Son'.

He urged the Vatican congregation 'to get involved with each other without delay, to go out to meet our brothers and sisters who have been forgotten and discarded by our consumerist and indifferent societies'.

The pontiff recounted the Bible verse from John 3:16: 'God who so loved the world, sent us his son, "born of a woman", so that "whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life"'.

In the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe the Pope said that the Virgin Mary 'invites us to leave behind all the prejudices and fears that populate our hearts and to trust in the true God for whom we live, joyfully and confidently directing us to reaffirm our belonging to the Lord'.

In 2031, it will be the 500th anniversary since the appearance of Mary to the young man in Mexico.

With this in mind, Pope Francis called on 'all members of the pilgrim Church in the Americas, pastors and faithful, to participate in this celebratory journey that aims to promote an encounter with God through Our Lady of Guadalupe'.

'She wants to remind us that it was the Gospel that shaped the soul of Latin America, and that as believers in Christ it is our responsibility to be credible witnesses of the love of Jesus Christ and decisive protagonists in building a new culture.'

A large portion of America's religious population believe we are living through the last days of humanity, a new poll has found.

Nearly two in five people in the US - including both Christians and those not affiliated with religion - answered 'yes' when asked if they agreed that 'we are living in the end times,' according to the study by Pew research.

The study looked into Americans' views regarding the earth, climate change and environmentalism. A specific portion asked about people's views on the end of the world.

While 58 percent said they did not believe the end of the world was imminent, 39 percent said the end of days is near. The number was higher among those who said they were Christians (47 percent).

This fear among the population has translated into booming sales of doomsday bunkers, with one Texas company saying it had seen sales soar '1000%' earlier this year.

This has been put down to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the on-going war in Ukraine, which has seen Russia threaten the use of nuclear weapons.

Comment: Russia intimated that it would respond with nukes, if America enacted its first strike policy.

In recent months, Francis has grown increasingly critical of Vladimir Putin's on-going invasion of Ukraine, which was launched on February 24.

On Thursday, he appeared at the Spanish Steps in the centre of Rome during an annual Christmas visit to venerate a statue of the Virgin Mary. While praying for peace in Ukraine, he choked up, and struggled to finish his sermon.

He said: 'I would have liked to have brought you the thanks of the Ukrainian people -' but stopped.

He began to tremble as he mentioned the Ukrainians and to pause. As the crowd of thousands realised the pope was overcome with emotion, they broke into applause and urged him to continue.

Comment: Evidently the pope can read the signs of the times but sometimes clearly struggles to discern what's objectively going on in real time; because Ukraine's military is aligned with Nazi ideologies, some proudly display their pagan practises on film, meanwhile the government is raiding and shutting down Orthodox churches - and we're not even getting into the abominable war crimes of their military.

Picking up from where he left off, Francis said: '- the Ukrainian people for the peace we have so long asked the Lord.

'Instead I must present you with the pleas of children, elderly, mothers and fathers and the young people of that martyred land, that is suffering so much.'

Comment: One doesn't recall the pope tearing up over the millions who suffered the US wars in the Middle East.

After reading the prayer on Thursday at the statue near the Spanish Steps, the pope greeted people in the crowd, including journalists.

When a journalist mentioned to Francis that she had seem him overcome with emotion, he responded: 'Yes. It (the war in Ukraine) is an enormous suffering, enormous. A defeat for humanity.'

A day earlier, he compared the war in Ukraine to a Nazi operation that killed some two million people, mostly Jews, in the first years of World War Two.

And in September, Francis said Ukraine was being 'martyred' and slammed Putin's 'monstrosity'. That same month, the pope revealed he had been involved in efforts to release 300 Ukrainian prisoners of war held by Russia.

Speaking at the time, he said he received 'Ukrainian emissaries' at the Vatican, including a military chief who brought with him a list 'of more than 300 prisoners'.

He made the remarks on September 15, a week before Russia and Ukraine carried out an unexpected prisoner swap involving almost 300 people - the largest since Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

The pope said: 'They asked me to do something so that an exchange could be made. I immediately called the Russian ambassador to see if something could be done, if an exchange of prisoners could be expedited.'

Russia was last week suspected of retaliating against the pope's critical comments.

The official Vatican website was taken offline on November 30 following an apparent hacking attack, the Holy See said.

'Technical investigations are ongoing due to abnormal attempts to access the site,' Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said, without giving any further information.

The suspected hack came a day after Moscow criticised Pope Francis's continued condemnation of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Russia lodged a formal protest with the Vatican over Francis' condemnation, in which the pontiff blamed most of the cruelty on Chechens and other minorities in an apparent effort to spare ethnic Russian troops from criticism.

Francis defended his usual reluctance to call out Putin by name, saying it was clear Ukraine is the 'martyred' victim in the war.

Comment: Well, he's close enough, Ukraine is being sacrificed by the West in its attempts to destroy Russia.

But he also said that, while it was the Russian state that invaded Ukraine, 'Generally, the cruellest are perhaps those who are of Russia but are not of the Russian tradition, such as the Chechens, the Buryats and so on.'

Comment: Eh?

He had previously been criticised for being more impartial during the early stages of the war, but his criticism has grown stronger as it has progressed.

Since the war began in February, thousands of Ukrainian civilians have been killed by Russian soldiers. Moscow has been accused of carrying out war crimes against the Ukrainian people, with Kyiv discovering several mass graves.