Stop the wars, pope says in New Year appeal

Wed Jan 1, 2014 7:55am EST
 
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis made an impassioned New Year's peace address on Wednesday, saying the heart of humanity seemed to have gone astray and too many people were still indifferent to war, violence and injustice.

The pontiff, who took his papal name from St Francis of Assisi, the saint most associated with peace, urged the world to listen to the "cry for peace" from suffering peoples.

"What on earth is happening in the hearts of men? What on earth is happening in the heart of humanity?" he said to tens of thousands of people in St Peter's Square on the day the Roman Catholic Church celebrates its World Day of Peace.

"It's time to stop!" he said, departing from his prepared text.

Francis was speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter's Square that popes traditionally use for their addresses.

Unlike his predecessors, Francis has not used the spacious apartment behind the window since his election in March, shunning pomp and preferring instead to live in small quarters in a Vatican guest house.

"Everyone must be committed to building a society that is truly just and caring," he told the crowd on Wednesday, acknowledging the many peace banners and blue balloons held aloft.

In a message for the World Day of Peace sent to world leaders last month, Francis said that huge salaries and bonuses were symptoms of an economy based on greed and inequality   Continued...

 
Pope Francis kisses a baby Jesus statue as he leads a mass at Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican January 1, 2014. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito