Belfast Telegraph

Pope sends out prayers for those fighting terrorism

By Frances D'Emilio

Pope Francis has used his New Year greeting to pray for those courageously dealing with the terrorism gripping the world in "fear and bewilderment".

Some 50,000 pilgrims, tourists and Romans gathered in St Peter's Square for his noon blessing and New Year's Day remarks.

The Pope told the crowd: "The New Year will be good in the measure in which each of us, with the help of God, tries to do good, day by day, that's how peace is created."

Francis advised people to "say no to hate and violence and yes to brotherhood and reconciliation".

The Roman Catholic church dedicates the first day of the year to the theme of peace.

The Pope also told those standing in the cold the new year had already begun badly.

"Unfortunately, violence has struck even on this night of well-wishes and hope," he said, referring to the attack on an Istanbul nightclub filled with New Year revellers that left 39 dead and dozens wounded.

"In sorrow, I express my closeness to the Turkish people, I pray for the numerous victims and wounded, and for all the nation in mourning," Francis said.

He prayed that God will sustain "all men of goodwill who courageously roll up their sleeves to deal with the plague of terrorism and this bloodstain which is gripping the world in a shadow of fear and bewilderment".

Earlier, during his homily during New Year's Day mass in St Peter's Basilica, Francis lamented "narcissist hearts" in societies becoming "cold and calculating".

He said: "The loss of the ties that bind us, so typical of our fragmented and divided culture, increases this sense of orphanhood and, as a result, of great emptiness and loneliness."

Francis said humility and tenderness are signs of strength, not weakness.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury urged Britons to reconcile the divisions brought by the "tough" EU referendum campaign in his new year message.

Brexit would "profoundly" affect the country's future, but its citizens should look to examples from Britain's past for a route towards social harmony, the Most Rev Justin Welby said.

His message came after former Ukip leader Nigel Farage criticised as "negative" the Archbishop's Christmas Day sermon, which did not mention Brexit.

The 60-year-old said: "Last year, we made a decision that will profoundly affect the future of our country - a decision made democratically by the people.

"The EU Referendum was a tough campaign and it has left divisions.

"But I know that if we look at our roots, our history and our culture in the Christian tradition, if we reach back into what is best in this country, we will find a path towards reconciling the differences that have divided us.

"If we are welcoming to those in need, if we are generous in giving, if we take hold of our new future with determination and courage - then we will flourish."

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