VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis in his New Year's greetings Sunday declared 2017 will be good to the degree that people do good and reject hatred, as he prayed for those courageously dealing with terrorism gripping the world in "fear and bewilderment."
"The new year will be good in the measure in which each of us, with the help of God, tries to do good, day by day, that's how peace is created," Francis told a crowd of 50,000 pilgrims, tourists and Romans gathered in St. Peter's Square for his noon blessing and New Year's Day remarks.
Francis advised people to "say no to hate and violence and yes to brotherhood and reconciliation." The Roman Catholic church dedicates the first day of the year to the theme of peace.
He also told those standing in the bitingly cold air that the new year had already begun badly.
"Unfortunately, violence has struck even on this night of well-wishes and hope," he said, referring to the attack on an Istanbul nightclub filled with New Year's revelers early Sunday that left 39 dead and dozens wounded.
"In sorrow, I express my closeness to the Turkish people, I pray for the numerous victims and wounded, and for all the nation in mourning," Francis said.
He then prayed that God will sustain "all men of goodwill who courageously roll up their sleeves to deal with the plague of terrorism and this bloodstain which is gripping the world in a shadow of fear and bewilderment."
Earlier, during his homily during New Year's Day Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, Francis lamented "narcissist hearts" in societies becoming "cold and calculating."
"The loss of the ties that bind us, so typical of our fragmented and divided culture, increases this sense of orphanhood and, as a result, of great emptiness and loneliness. The lack of physical, and not virtual, contact is cauterizing our hearts and making us lose the capacity for tenderness and wonder, for pity and compassion," Francis said.
Francis says humility and tenderness are signs of strength, not weakness.
Frances D'Emilio is on twitter at www.twitter.com/fdemilio