Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Pope Francis highlighted God's willingness to bring his love to "even the worst of us" during his Christmas Eve Mass.
Speaking before thousands of people in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, the Pope focused on the theme of God "bringing salvation to all," including those who believe they have "made a complete mess of things."
"Christmas reminds us that God continues to love us all, even the worst of us," he said. "How often do we think that God is good if we are good and punishes us if we are bad. Yet, that is not how He is ... His love does not change. It is not fickle; it is faithful. It is patient."
Pope Francis added that God did not wait until we were good before He loved us and called on those listening to not wait "for our neighbors to be good before we do good to them, for the Church to be perfect before we love her, for others to respect us before we serve them."
The message comes amid a year in which the Catholic Church has seen thousands of reports of sexual abuse by priests and allegations of coverups by church leaders.
Last week, Pope Francis lifted "pontifical secrecy" as the Vatican announced victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests are no longer bound by secrecy rules against discussing the cases.