Vatican City, 1 January 2014 (VIS) – Following the celebration of Holy Mass on the Solemnity of the Holy Mother of God, and on the 47th World Day of Peace, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer, the Pontiff made some comments on the theme of peace.
“Following in the footsteps of my predecessors, beginning with Paul VI, I have developed this theme in a message, which today I convey to all. It is based on the conviction that we are all children of one Heavenly Father, we are part of the same human family, and we share a common destiny. Thus we all have the shared responsibility to work to make the world into a community of brothers and sisters who respect each other, accept diversity and take care of each other. We are also called to be aware of the violence and injustice that exist in many parts of the world and to which we should remain indifferent and immobile: the commitment of all is necessary to build a more just and caring society. From every corner of the earth, today believers raise prayers to the Lord for the gift of peace and the ability to bring it to every place."
“On this, the first day of the year”, added the Holy Father, “may the Lord help us to set out more decisively on the path of justice and peace; may the Holy Spirit act in our hearts, loosening bonds and warming hardened hearts so that they open up to the tenderness and weakness of the Child Jesus. Peace requires the force of meekness, the non-violent strength of the truth and of love.
Similarly, Pope Francis encouraged the faithful to place their hopes with filial trust in the hands of Mary. "May she, who extends her maternal love to all mankind, hear the cry for peace of those people oppressed by war and violence, so that the courage of dialogue and reconciliation might prevail over the temptation for revenge, arrogance and corruption. We pray to her that the Gospel of fraternity announced and witnessed by the Church speak to every conscience and break down the walls that prevent enemies from recognising each other as brothers".
After the Marian prayer, Pope Francis wished a happy new year, full of peace, to all the pilgrims and faithful. He thanked the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, for the words addressed to the him during the president's message to the Italian nation on the night of 31 December, and sent his best wishes to the Italian people so that they "may look to the future with confidence and hope". He also thanked the various groups that have arranged prayer initiatives dedicated to peace, in particular the national March which began on 31 December in Campobasso, Italy, organised by the Italian Episcopal Conference, Caritas and Pax Christi; the Sant'Egidio Community; and the families of the Movement of Family Love, who spent the night praying in St. Peter's Square,and the volunteers of Fraterna Domus. Before concluding, he addressed a special greeting to the "Star Singers" (“Sternsinger”), the children and young people in Germany and Austria who bring the blessing of Jesus to homes and collect donations for children in need.