God is near, says Pope in New Year's Day address

(Photo: YouTube/Vatican News)

In a world that continues to be rocked by insecurity and the challenges of the pandemic, God is not distant but very near, Pope Francis has said. 

The Pope appeared at the window of his study to deliver the traditional New Year's Day Angelus to thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square.

He said the birth of Jesus showed that God does not come in power but "weak and frail".

"God is near, within our reach. He does not come with the power of someone who wants to be feared, but with the frailness of someone who asks to be loved," he said. 

"He does not judge us from his throne on high, but looks at us from below, like a brother, rather, like a son. He is born little and in need so that no one would ever again be ashamed."

New Year's Day coincides with the Catholic Church's World Day of Peace, now in its 55th year, and the Pope also used his address to urge people not to stand on the sidelines but be at the forefront of building a peaceful world.

Making a world of peace starts with having peace in our hearts, something that can only come when we turn to Jesus, he said.

It needs "concrete gestures" and someone "to take the first step", the Pope continued, as he called on people to become "craftsmen of fraternity" who "mend the threads of a world torn apart by war and violence".

"[Peace] is built by being attentive to the least, by promoting justice, with the courage to forgive thus extinguishing the fire of hatred," he said.

"And it needs a positive outlook as well, one that always sees, in the Church as well as in society, not the evil that divides us, but the good that unites us." 

He added, "Getting depressed or complaining is useless. We need to roll up our sleeves to build peace."