By Ann Marie Foley - 02 January, 2020
Every form of violence inflicted upon a woman is a blasphemy against God, who was born of a woman, said Pope Francis in his homily at Mass in St Peter’s Basilica on the first day of the year, celebrating the Feast of Mary, Mother of God.
“How often are women’s bodies sacrificed on the profane altars of advertising, profiteering, and pornography, exploited like a canvas to be used. Women’s bodies must be freed from consumerism,” he added. “They must be respected and honoured.”
Pope Francis’ first homily of the year was dedicated to the figure of Mary, on the day the Church celebrates her as Mother of God. Mary was declared Mother of God at the Council of Ephesus in 431, and it was Pope Saint Paul VI who restored this solemnity to 1 January in 1974.
Pope Francis also reflected on the Gospel, which often repeats the image of Mary “keeping all things in her heart”. He said that women take life to heart, and show people that the meaning of life is not found in “making things”.
“Only those who see with the heart see things properly, because they know how to ‘look into’ each person,” he said.
Pope Francis urged people at the start of this New Year to ask themselves if they know “how to see with the heart”. He said that only if people do this will they know how to “overcome the indifference” which is everywhere.
The Church celebrated 1 January as the 53rd World Day of Peace, a tradition begun by Pope Saint Paul VI in 1968. Pope Francis stated that to have a better world and a more peaceful home instead of a war field, people need to take to heart the dignity of each woman.
Stating that women are givers and mediators of peace, Pope Francis added that women should be “fully included in decision-making processes”.
The Pope stated that Mary began the “revolution of tenderness” and the Church is called to continue this.
He concluded his homily by asking Mary to give people hope and bring unity, and he entrusted this year (2020) to Mary.
Later Pope Francis addressed the crowds gathered for the Angelus in St Peter’s Square, and said that 2020 is a year to cultivate hope and peace.
He stated that on the previous evening, New Year’s Eve, he had concluded the year 2019 by thanking God for the gift of time and all its benefits. Then he said that he would begin the year 2020 with the same attitude of gratitude and praise.