Vatican City – Bidding 2017 farewell, Pope Francis on Sunday decried wars, injustices, social and environmental degradation and other man-made ills which he said spoiled the year.
Francis presided at a New Year’s Eve prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica, a traditional occasion to say thanks in each year’s last hours.
In his homily, the pope said God gave to us a “whole and sound” year, but “we humans in so many ways ruined and hurt it with works of death, with lies and injustices.”
“The wars are the flagrant sign of this repeated and absurd pride,” he said. “But so are all the little and big offenses against life, truth, brotherhood, that cause multiple forms of human, social and environmental degradation.”
Francis added: “We want to, and must assume, before God, our brothers and Creation our responsibility” for the harm.
Despite the gloom, Francis said “gratitude prevails” thanks to those who “cooperate silently for the common good.” He singled out parents and educators who try to raise young people with a sense of responsible ethics.
After the solemn basilica service, Francis strolled outside, briskly crisscrossing St. Peter’s Square to shake hands and banter with well-wishers, and kiss babies held by some of the thousands of faithful who waited for hours for a glimpse of him. The evening was warm, and Francis went without the white coat an aide carried for him. During his nearly hour-long walkabout outdoors, he stopped to admire a life-sized Nativity scene in the middle of the square.
Seek Mary’s intercession
In the Philippines, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CBCP) said Filipinos should begin the New Year filled with hope.
“In the midst of tragedies, man-made and natural, in the midst of the inhumanity present in the world today, in the midst of heartless terrorism, in the midst of sinfulness, we have the confidence that Mary accompanies us in the midst of darkness and she leads us to hope, a hope that endures in the darkness of our world “ CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao said in his New Year’s message.
“As we begin 2018, we turn to Mary, the Mother of God, and ask for her aid, her intercession that we may be living witnesses of hope. A hope that proclaims by our lives that the Light has overcome the darkness,” said Valles.
God, he stressed comes to us through Mary.
“The incarnation tells us of the dignity of our human nature. With Mary we can ponder these things in our heart and be filled with a divine hope and new way of seeing all of life illumined by the Light who has come into the world,” Valles said.
Year of the Clergy
2018 is the Year of the Clergy and consecrated persons and Father Jerome Secillano,executive secretary of the CBCP Public Affairs Committee urge priests to contribute to social transformation.
“I think clergymen are significant contributors to social transformation. Since clerics are at the forefront of the evangelization process, evangelization meaning to say you bring the word of God, so the word of God has the ability to transform people,” Secillano, said in an interview.
“So how would the clergy make use of that power that he has? That is the challenge,” he added.
“They should be effective in their mission. And when I say effective, so really that they are, that they are contributing something to the growth of the faithful,” Secillano stressed.
“We should not deny the fact that people look up to priests and somehow people really get disappointed when they see priests who are not a model of authentic Christian life,” Secillano noted. Therefore, “the clergy should also be a model – model of holiness and of goodness.” (With a report from Leslie Ann G. Aquino)