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Pope Francis urges peace and understanding for migrants

12 January 2018

Pope Francis reminded the about 40,000 people gathered at the Vatican square that he had chosen the plight of migrants and refugees as the theme for the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Peace, which is celebrated annually on 1 January.

"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 risky 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.

"It is important that everyone, civil institutions, educational and welfare organizations, and ecclesial realities are committed to ensuring refugees, migrants and everyone a future of peace", he said.

"She shows us he right way to receive the gift of God", he said, "conserving it in the heart and meditating on it".

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".

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"We see Jesus in the many children forced to leave their countries to travel alone in inhuman conditions and who become an easy target for human traffickers", he said.

Pope Francis also prayed for the children and people of South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Congo, Central African Republic and Nigeria.

The ceremony ending the calendar year for Francis was one focused on thanksgiving, however, and he said that he was grateful for the "contribute with small but precious concrete actions" who act as "craftsmen of the common good". May the Lord grant us [the opportunity] to work with generosity in this new year to realise a more supportive and welcoming world.

"Wars are the most flagrant sign of this persistent and absurd pride", he said. In November, the Pontiff told an anti-nuclear weapon conference that the possession of nuclear weapons was now "irrational".

Pope Francis urges peace and understanding for migrants