"However, we must be brave: lower the mountains of pride and rivalry, refill the gullies dug up by indifference and apathy, straighten the path of our laziness and our compromises."
Before leading those present in the Marian Angelus prayer, Pope Francis called on Mary's intercession to break down the "barriers and obstacles which impede our conversion" thereby allowing for our encounter with Jesus, who alone can give fulfillment to "all the hopes of man!"
After leading the crowds in St. Peter's Square in the Angelus, Pope Francis acknowledged the climate summit currently underway in Paris.
Referencing his encyclical on the environment, "Laudato, Si," the Pope said: "For the sake of the common home of all of us and future generations, every effort in Paris should be aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change," while at the same time combating poverty in order to help human dignity to thrive.
The fight against climate change and the fight against poverty go together, the pontiff said.
"Let us pray that the Holy Spirit enlighten all who are called to take such important decisions and give them the courage to keep as a criterion of choice for the greater good of the whole human family."
Pope Francis also remarked on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's Joint Declaration between Blessed Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, which took place on Dec. 7, 1965 on the eve of the council's conclusion. The Joint Declaration is considered a major step in promoting reconciliation between the Holy See and the ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople after the Great Schism of 1054.
The Pope said it is "providential" that this "historic gesture of reconciliation" is remembered at the opening of the Year of Mercy.
He asked for prayers for current ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew I, and said for there to be an "authentic journey toward God" there is the need to "to ask forgiveness from God and from one another for the sins of division."
"We ask the Lord that relations between Catholics and Orthodox be always inspired by fraternal love."