Make 2020 a year of hope and peace, says Pope

Pope Francis leads a Mass marking the World Day of Peace in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, January 1, 2020.(Photo: Reuters/Remo Casilli)

Pope Francis has appealed for a year of hope and peace in 2020 in his Angelus prayer. 

Addressing the crowds in St Peter's Square on New Year's Day, the Pope said that Jesus was "peace for humanity" as he invited people to mark the start of 2020 with gratitude. 

"Last night we concluded the year 2019 by thanking God for the gift of time and all its benefits," he said.

"Today we begin the year 2020 with the same attitude of gratitude and praise."

He went on to say that Jesus "frees with love" all those who are "oppressed by the yoke of slavery, both moral and material", and that God loves us, even when we have lost our "self-esteem by remaining prisoners of vicious cycles".

"To those who are victims of injustice and exploitation and see no way out, Jesus opens the door of fraternity, where they can find welcoming faces, hearts and hands, where they can share bitterness and despair, and recover some dignity."

Remembering those seriously ill or feeling abandoned, the Pope said that Jesus was close to them and could turn weakness into "a force for good". 

"To those who are imprisoned and are tempted to close in on themselves," he said, "Jesus reopens a horizon of hope, starting with a small glimmer of light."

He said his message for 2020 was "peace as a journey of hope" that requires "dialogue, reconciliation and ecological conversion".

He concluded with a call to people to "descend from the pedestals of our pride". 

"Thus the year that begins will be a journey of hope and peace, not through words, but through daily gestures of dialogue, reconciliation and care for creation," he said.

In his homily in a packed St Peter's Basilica, his thoughts turned to violence against women and the female body, which he said "must be freed from consumerism, it must be respected and honoured".

"All violence inflicted on women is a desecration of God," 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 continued: "We can understand our level of humanity by the way we treat a woman's body."

He also reflected on the desperate choices of some women forced to leave their homes in search of a better place to raise their children. 

"Today even motherhood is humiliated, because the only growth that interests us is economic growth," 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."