Pope Francis welcomes people dressed as wise men as he leads the holy mass to mark the world day of peace, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Jan. 1, 2018. (Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP)
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 Jan. 1 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."
Entrusting the needs of migrants and refugees to the maternal concern of Mary, the pope led the crowd in reciting a traditional Marian prayer: "Under thy protection we seek refuge, holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our needs, but from all dangers deliver us always, Virgin, Glorious and Blessed."
Source: Catholic News Service