He also reflected on the city of Rome, where, he noted, many people feel like they are part of a family.
Rome’s new mayor, Roberto Gualtieri, was present at the Vatican’s prayer service on Friday. Pope Francis had greeted Gualtieri, who was elected in October 2021, before the start of the liturgy.
“Everyone feels at home because this city preserves a universal openness within it. I dare say: it is the universal city,” Francis said. “It comes from its history, from its culture. It comes primarily from the Gospel of Christ that laid down deep roots here, made fruitful by the blood of the martyrs, beginning with Peter and Paul.”
The pope warned that a fraternal city is not created by “beautiful speeches” or “bombastic events,” however, but “by the daily, weekday attentions paid to those who struggle the most, to those families who feel the weight of the crisis most, to those persons with serious disabilities and their families, to all those who need to use public transportation to go to work, to all who live on the outskirts, to those who have been overwhelmed by some failure in life and need social services, and so forth.”
“It is the city that watches each of its children, each of its inhabitants, indeed each of its guests. Rome is a wonderful city, that never ceases to enchant. But for those who live here, it is also a difficult city, unfortunately not always dignified for those who live here or its visitors, a city that sometimes rejects,” he continued.
“The hope, then, is that everyone who lives and works here, or are pilgrims or tourists, that everyone might appreciate Rome more and more for its welcoming care for the dignity of life, for our common home, for the weakest and most vulnerable,” Francis stated. “May everyone be amazed, discovering a beauty in this city that is, I would say, ‘consistent,’ and that evokes gratitude. This is my wish for this year.”
It is Pope Francis’ custom to visit the Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square following First Vespers on New Year’s Eve, but this year his visit was canceled to prevent crowds from gathering during the pandemic.
Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.