Jan. 1 isn't just New Year's Day for the Roman Catholic Church. It's also the World Day of Peace, and Pope Francis used the occasion Monday to remind 40,000 congregants at St. Peter's Square about the plight of one of the world's "weakest and most needy" populations, per Reuters and CNN. "Please do not extinguish the hope in their hearts," the pontiff said of migrants and refugees looking for safe havens, adding "for this peace, to which everyone has a right, many of them are willing to risk their lives in a journey which is often long and dangerous." In an earlier Mass, per the Washington Post, Francis recommended dumping the "useless baggage" of life and reflecting more on God, which will help stop "our freedom from being corroded by the banality of consumerism, the blare of commercials, the stream of empty words, and the overpowering waves of empty chatter and loud shouting."
Francis also issued a warning in recent days on the perils of nuclear war, via a photo showing a Japanese boy in 1945 carrying his dead brother on his back shortly after the Nagasaki bombing, the Independent reports. The Vatican press office started sending around cards featuring the image by Marine photographer Joe O'Donnell, with the Francis-added words "the fruits of war" on the back. The caption under the photo reads: "The young boy's sadness is expressed only in his gesture of biting his lips which are oozing blood." A Vatican analyst says this latest correspondence out of Rome is "consistent with Francis' effort … to speak out against what he describes as a 'Third World War' today, being fought in piecemeal fashion in various parts of the world."