Pope Francis began the New Year praying the world would demonstrate a marked increase in solidarity and welcome for migrants and refugees.
“Let’s not extinguish the hope in their hearts; let’s not suffocate their hopes for peace,” the pope said on 1st January before reciting the Angelus with a crowd gathered in St Peter’s Square.
For the New Year’s celebration of World Peace Day and the feast of Mary, Mother of God, Pope Francis had chosen to focus on migrants and refugees and their yearning for peace.
“For this peace, which is the right of all, many of them are willing to risk their lives in a journey that, in most cases, is long and dangerous and to face trials and suffering,” the pope told an estimated 40,000 people gathered in the square around the Christmas tree and Nativity scene.
Pope Francis said it is important that everyone, including individuals, governments, schools, churches and church agencies, make a commitment to “ensuring refugees, migrants – everyone – a future of peace.”
Picture: Pope Francis celebrates Mass marking the feast of Mary, Mother of God, in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on 1st January. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).