ROME - Pope Francis wished for peace in the world at the start of the New Year. Thousands of people packed Saint Peter’s Square to hear his word on World Peace Day. The pope also used strong words during a morning mass in the Vatican Basilica to decry violence against women and called for an end to the exploitation of the female body.
Under a brilliant winter sun and blue sky, Pope Francis wished a huge crowd gathered in Saint Peter’s Square a happy new year of peace. The pope said it is not expected that our planet has begun a new circle around the sun and that humanity continues to live in it but rather it is always a miracle that surprises and that one should be thankful for.
On World Peace Day, instituted by Pope Paul VI, Pope Francis said that for 2020 the message is this: “Peace is a path of hope, a path on which one advances through dialogue, reconciliation and conversion.”
Earlier Pope Francis celebrated a solemn mass on New Year’s Day in Saint Peter’s Basilica. On January 1, the Church celebrates Mary, mother of Jesus.
In his first homily of 2020, the pope spoke against violence inflicted on women in modern society. He said all violence against women is a desecration of God. He also called for an end to the exploitation of the female body saying it “must be freed from consumerism” and it “must be respected and honored.”
He said “how often is a woman's body sacrificed on the profane altar of advertising, profit, pornography, exploited as a surface to be used.” He added that while women are “the sources of life,” they are continually offended, beaten, raped, forced into prostitution" or forced to have abortions.
Pope Francis said that our level of humanity is understood by the way we treat a woman's body. He also said that in order to make the world more united and at peace, women should become fully-associated with decision-making.
In his homily, the pope also addressed the issue of immigration and mothers who undertake difficult voyages to improve the lives of their children.
He said: “There are mothers, who risk perilous journeys to desperately try to give the fruit of the womb a better future and are judged to be redundant by people whose bellies are full of things, but whose hearts are empty of love."