Jan. 1 (UPI) — During his New Year’s message from the Vatican Monday, Pope Francis said migrants are entitled to a “future of peace.”
“May we not extinguish hope in their hearts! May we not stifle their expectations of peace” the pope said in Italian to a crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square below the window of his apartment. “It is important that everyone, civil institutions, educational and welfare organizations, and ecclesial realities are committed to ensuring refugees, migrants and everyone a future of peace. May the Lord grant us to work in this new year with generosity to create a more supportive and welcoming world.”
The Catholic Church designated Jan. 1 as World Peace Day.
“I would like once again to raise my voice for these brothers and sisters, who seek a horizon of peace for their future,” the pope said.
During his address to an estimated 40,000 devotees, he said peace is “the right of all” — and that migrants and refugees “are willing to risk their lives on a journey that in most cases is long and dangerous, to face hardships and suffering.” He also urged everyone to work with “generosity to create a more supportive and welcoming world.”
On New Year’s Day, the Catholic Church celebrates the liturgical Solemnity of the Mother of God.
Pope Francis said old Russian monks and mystics during times of spiritual troubles would gather under the mantle of the Holy Mother of God.
“We seek refuge under your protection, Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our supplications amidst our trials but deliver us from every evil, Oh glorious and blessed Virgin,” he said in prayer.
Pope Francis noted that Mary placed herself between her son and people in poverty and suffering.
“It is precisely to these people that the theme of the World Day of Peace is dedicated: ‘Migrants and refugees: men and women seeking peace.'”
During his homily earlier Monday, the pontiff suggested worshipers “set aside a moment of silence each day to be with God is to ‘keep’ our soul.”
In November, the pope traveled to Myanmar and Bangladesh — where, since August, more than 600,000 Rohingya residents have fled to Bangladesh to escape violence by Myanmar’s military