For New Year, pope urges help for refugees, respect for life

Pope Francis venerates a figurine of the baby Jesus as he celebrates Mass marking the feast of Mary, Mother of God, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Jan. 1. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) Pope Francis venerates a figurine of the baby Jesus as he celebrates Mass marking the feast of Mary, Mother of God, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Jan. 1. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — 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.

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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.

“Let’s not extinguish the hope in their hearts; let's not suffocate their hopes for peace,” the pope said of refugees.

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.”

Pope Francis had begun the day celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Marian feast, which he said was a celebration of “a magnificent truth about God and about ourselves: From the moment that our Lord became incarnate in Mary, and for all time, he took on our humanity.”

“To call Mary the mother of God reminds us,” he said, that “God is close to humanity, even as a child is close to the mother who bears him in her womb.”

God becoming human in the baby Jesus, the pope said, is an affirmation that human life “is precious and sacred to the Lord,” so “to serve human life is to serve God.”

“All life, from life in the mother’s womb to that of the elderly, the suffering and the sick, and to that of the troublesome and even repellent, is to be welcomed, loved and helped,” he said.

Pope Francis also drew people’s attention to the fact that in the Gospel stories of Jesus’ birth, Mary is silent. And the newborn Jesus, obviously, cannot speak.

“We need to remain silent as we gaze upon the crib,” he said. “Pondering the crib, we discover anew that we are loved; we savor the real meaning of life. As we look on in silence, we let Jesus speak to our heart.

“May his lowliness lay low our pride; his poverty challenge our pomp; his tender love touch our hardened hearts,” the pope prayed.

Celebrating evening prayer Dec. 31 and offering thanks to God for the year that was ending, Pope Francis gave a special acknowledgement to people—especially parents and teachers—who are “artisans of the common good,” working to help their families, neighbors and communities each day without fanfare.

But, he said, people also must acknowledge that God gave humanity the year 2017 “whole and sound,” yet “we human beings have in many ways wasted and wounded it with works of death, with lies and injustices. Wars are the flagrant sign of this backsliding and absurd pride. But so are all the small and great offenses against life, truth and solidarity, which cause multiple forms of human, social and environmental degradation.”

The pope also led the midday Angelus prayer Dec. 31, the feast of the Holy Family.

The Sunday Gospel reading recounted Mary and Joseph taking the baby Jesus to the temple “to certify that the child belongs to God and that they are the guardians of his life and not the owners,” the pope said.

Mary and Joseph experience the joy of seeing their son grow in wisdom, grace and strength, the pope said. “This is mission to which the family is called: to create the best conditions that will allow for the harmonious and full growth of children, so that they can live a life that is good, worthy of God and constructive for the world.”

Growth and rebirth are possibilities open to every family, he said. “Whenever families, even those wounded and marked by frailty, failure and difficulty, return to the source of Christian experience, new paths and unimagined possibilities open up.”

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E.Patrick Mosman
3 months 3 weeks ago

"ensuring refugees, migrants—everyone—a future of peace."
If the Pope truly wanted Peace in the world he would began to preach about the cause of the wars today in the world, Islam,which he falsely calls a great "Peaceful" religion and gives it equal status to Christianity and Judaism.
"In an Interview, Top Indonesian Muslim Scholar Says Stop Pretending That Orthodox Islam and Violence Aren't Linked"
Question:"Many Western politicians and intellectuals say that Islamist terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. What is your view? "( Pope Francis can be included)
Answer: "Western politicians should stop pretending that extremism and terrorism have nothing to do with Islam. There is a clear relationship between fundamentalism, terrorism, and the basic assumptions of Islamic orthodoxy. So long as we lack consensus regarding this matter, we cannot gain victory over fundamentalist violence within Islam."
Read the complete interview at: http://time.com/4930742/islam-terrorism-islamophobia-violence/

I am not sure that that the Pope is familiar with the writings of history Professors Huntington and Lewis on Islam who concluded that Islam was hardly peaceful.

Harvard's Professor Emeritus Samuel P. Huntington's 1996 "Clash of Civilizations" -- concludes "Islam's borders are bloody and so are its innards".
(Note: Huntington included the following footnote comments on the same conclusion of his article published in a Foreign Affairs: No statement in my Foreign Affairs article attracted more critical comment than "Islam has bloody borders." I made that judgment on the basis of a causal survey of intercivilization conflicts. Quantitative evidence from every disinterested source conclusively demonstrates its validity" - Huntington.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: Princeton's Islam expert Professor Emeritus Bernard Lewis 2003 "The Crisis of Islam - Holy War and Unholy Terror".

Even Princeton's Islam expert Professor Emeritus Bernard Lewis' in his 2003 "The Crisis of Islam - Holy War and Unholy Terror" acknowledges the seriousness of the Islamic problems (not only al Qaida) existent in the Islamic world and how these problems manifest themselves worldwide. One of the book’s concluding sentences.....
“ Sooner or later, Al Qaida and related groups will clash with the other neighbors of Islam -- Russia, China, India -- who may prove to be less squeamish than the Americans in using their power against Muslims and their sanctities."
These histories did not even touch on current Islamic terrorist organizations and their atrocities,
al Qaida, ISIS, Boko Haram, individual suicide bombers and the recent New York, London, Paris and Brussels murderers and the almost daily suicide car bombs and suicide bombers all in the name of Allah, as they were written some time ago.

Dionys Murphy
3 months 3 weeks ago

"Even Princeton's Islam expert Professor Emeritus Bernard Lewis'" - He is referring specifically to Al Qaida and its related terrorist groups. Not Islam in general, because he doesn't tend to lie as most islamophobes do and group together extremist Muslims with Muslims in general. Just as most Christians don't tend to claim their extremist terrorist brethren as representative of the whole group. Your portraying all Muslims as akin to Al Qaida is like saying most Christians are like the Lord's Resistance Army. It's dishonest.

J Cosgrove
3 months 3 weeks ago

Are you aware of what is in the Quran and the Hadith? All Muslims must believe these two documents as dogma and the way to act. One is the exact word of Allah and the other is the conduct of the perfect human follower of Allah, Muhammed.

The word "Sunni" means conduct or behavior and refers to how Muhammed acted. So to be a good Muslim, one must imitate Muhammed.

E.Patrick Mosman
3 months 3 weeks ago

Resorting to name calling,"he doesn't tend to lie as most islamophobes" is simply because one fails to recognize the truth about Islam reflecting a superficial view of Islam, moderate Islam is an oxymoron! "Islam is peaceful" might be politically correct but it defies the facts. The Middle East today is aflame with "peaceful" Muslims slaughtering each other and innocent non-believers by the tens of thousands and not a peep is heard from the grand mullahs of Saudi Arabia and Iran, religious leaders of the Sunni and Shia sects calling for peace.
Those resorting to name-calling obviously have not perused or studied the historical,factual evidence in the writings of Islamic scholars such as Sayyid Qutb and/or the history of not so peaceful Islam starting with the death of Mohammad which led to the millions of deaths in the internecine Sunni Iraq-Shia Iran war and continuing today in Yemen and elsewhere. While there are some protests, there are no fatwas issued by any Islamic mullah, surely not by the grand mullahs of Saudi Arabia and Iran sects calling for death to the terrorists and revision of the Koran to remove all references to violent acts against the non- Muslims and peaceful co-existence. In the real world Islamic mullahs issue fatwas calling for death to writers,cartoonists,apostates(former Muslims) and anyone who they consider has insulted Mohammad, some peaceful acts.

J Cosgrove
3 months 3 weeks ago

I have a suggestion for the Pope.

Let's push for acceptance of these refugees to the economies that have accepted none so far. China and Japan are the two largest economies behind the US. The Pope should be making appeals to these nations to accept tens of millions of the refugees. Next he should push for another 10 million to be accepted by Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation in the world.

This should take care of the refugee problem. Of course the Pope has just visited Bangladesh and Myanmar and maybe a few million could be located there.

In each of these countries they would represent a small percentage and could easily be assimilated after a generation.

Toby Gillis
3 months 2 weeks ago

Christians, which I hope and believe includes most of the Catholic laity but not the hierarchy should insist that their Pope have more respect for the actual Word(s) of God and not the Satanic crap spewed from the Vatican. Islam is founded and based on hate for God and violence toward the followers of Him. The Pope is only interested in the coming one world religion, the worship of the Beast, where different faiths will be allowed to worship who they will as long as the Vatican is in charge of it.

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