Christmas comes to Vatican with tree lighting

Christmas kicks off at Vatican with tree lighting; pope recalls when


VATICAN CITY — The Christmas season is kicking off at the Vatican with the traditional lighting of the tree in St. Peter's Square — and a reminder from the pope about what happened when the “lights” of God were turned off in past atheistic regimes.

The German-born Benedict XVI made the comments to a delegation from Italy's Molise region, which donated the Vatican's main Christmas tree that was being lit Friday.

Benedict, who occasionally refers to his childhood as a devout Catholic in Nazi Germany, said the lights on the Christmas tree represent “divine light.” He said: “And when in the past they tried to stamp out the light of God to instead turn on illusory and misleading glows, there were seasons of tragic violence against man.”