Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “Let us not suppress hope in their hearts; let us not stifle their expectations of peace,” said Pope Francis in his address to tens of thousands of believers and pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Angelus of the first day of 2018 in which the Church celebrates Mary Mother of God and World Day of peace, whose theme this year is Migrants and refugees: men and women in search of peace.
Speaking about Mary’s intercession for "the weakest and the most disadvantaged", Pope Francis added: "It is precisely to these people that the theme of World Day of Peace is dedicated, which we celebrate today: 'Migrants and refugees: men and women in search of peace'.
“I would like once again to be the voice of these brothers and sisters who ask for a horizon of peace in their future. For such peace, which is everyone’s right, many of them are willing to risk their lives on a journey that in most cases is long and dangerous, and to face hardships and suffering (cf. Message for World Day of Peace 2018, 1).
“Let us not supress hope in their hearts; let us not stifle their expectations of peace! It is important that everyone – civic, educational, welfare and Church institutions – be committed to ensuring a future of peace for refugees, migrants and everyone [else]. May the Lord grant us [the opportunity] to work with generosity in this new year to realise a more supportive and welcoming world.
“I invite you to pray for this, whilst together with you I entrust to Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, the year 2018 that has just begun: ‘Under your protection we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God: do not despise our supplications, we who are being tested, but deliver us from all danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin’."
After the Marian prayer, the pontiff, citing in particular Italian President Sergio Mattarella, offered everyone "cordial wishes for every good thing in the new year". He then expressed "appreciation for the many initiatives of prayer and action for peace organised in every part of the world on the occasion of today's World Day of Peace".
"Dear friends,” he said in concluding, “I encourage you to carry forward with joy your commitment to solidarity, especially in the outskirts of cities, to favour peaceful coexistence".