In his New Year’s address, Pope Francis asked world leaders to work together to end the “plague of terrorism”. The start of 2017 has been marred with bloodshed brought about by terror attack on a night club in Turkey where at 39 have died.
Speaking to some 50,000 people in St Peter’s Square for his traditional address, Francis departed from his prepared text to condemn the Istanbul nightclub attack that killed at least 39 people.
“Unfortunately, violence has stricken even in this night of good wishes and hope. Pained, I express my closeness to the Turkish people. I pray for the many victims and for the wounded and for the entire nation in mourning.
“I ask the Lord to sustain all men of good will to courageously roll up their sleeves to confront the plague of terrorism and this stain of blood that is covering the world with a shadow of fear and a sense of loss,” he said.
He said 2017 will be what people make of it.
“The year will be good in the measure that each one of us, with the help of God, seeks to do good day after day,” he told the crowd on a cold morning.
Speaking on the day the Catholic Church marks its World Day of Peace, he said peace was constructed by saying ‘no’ to hate and violence and ‘yes’ to brotherhood and reconciliation.
Francis earlier said Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, where he said the lack of physical contact among people brought on by modern means of virtual communication “is cauterising our hearts and making us lose the capacity for tenderness and wonder, for pity and compassion.”
In his message, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin raised concerns about the “dangerous culture of violence” in Ireland. He also called for an end to gangland violence.
“There is a dangerous culture of violence in Ireland which is difficult to understand. I am saddened by the growing number of stabbings in the past year, at times by very young people.
“What lies behind such foolish violence? Is there a growing anger being built up in the hearts and minds of young people? Is it another form of emptiness and frustration which blinds people to the damage that can be done also to themselves by a moment of folly?
“How do we teach a culture of nonviolence to our young people? We have great young people. I spent the Christmas period among family and friends both here and in Rome and I have been moved to listen to children recite their Christmas poems: they are poems of simple words and ideas about Christmas being a time when peace is possible, when goodness is better than hatred.
“I have also in these days watched generous teenage volunteers turn out to support the needy and to assist in feeding the homeless. How can we transform that goodness that is in our young people into an enduring new culture of nonviolence?”
He said gangland bosses are totally blinded by their own selfish interest in the drug trade.
“Gangland violence must stop, but not in such a way as to strengthen the trade in drugs.”
He warned that a truce among drug barons could easily be used to “enhance their commerce of death”.