By FRANCES D’EMILIO, Associated Press

VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis opened the New Year on Saturday by praising the skills of women to promote world peace, and equated violence against women with an offense against God.

The Roman Catholic Church marks January 1 as a day dedicated to world peace, and a late morning Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican paid homage to the Virgin Mary’s special place in the faith in as the mother of Jesus.

Mothers “know how to overcome obstacles and disagreements, and instill peace,” Francis said in his homily.

“In this way, they turn problems into opportunities for rebirth and growth. They can do it because they know how to “keep”, to hold together the different threads of life, ”said the pontiff. “We need such people, able to weave the threads of communion in place of the barbed wire of conflict and division. “

Political cartoons about world leaders

Political cartoons

François urged everyone to redouble their efforts to promote mothers and protect women.

“How much violence is directed against women! Enough! To hurt a woman is to insult God, who from a woman has taken our humanity,” said the Pope, referring to the Christian belief that Jesus was the son of God.

He praised women, including mothers, saying that they “look at the world not to exploit it but so that it can live. Women who, seeing with the heart, know how to combine dreams and aspirations. to concrete reality, without sinking into abstraction and sterile pragmatism.

While committing to his papacy to give women a greater role in the church, Francis also made it clear that the priesthood is for men only.

In a tweet before New Year’s Mass, Francis explained his hope and strategy for peace.

“All can work together to build a more peaceful world, starting from the hearts of individuals and relationships within the family, then within society and with the environment, to relationships between people and nations. “Francis tweeted.

With the exception of the Pope and members of a choir made up of boys and adults, Mass attendees wore their faces as part of COVID-19 precautions.

Francis, 85, and vaccinated against the coronavirus, wore a surgical mask during a New Year’s prayer service that a Vatican cardinal presided over at the basilica. It was a rare departure from his avoidance of masks at public ceremonies throughout the two-year pandemic.

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