Pope urges peace in Vatican New Year address and says hurting women insults God

Pope Francis urged the world to "roll up our sleeves" for peace in a New Year's message Saturday, while calling violence against women an affront to God.

Pope Francis addresses the crowd from the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking Saint Peter's Square
Pope Francis addresses the crowd from the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking Saint Peter's Square during the New Year Angelus prayer in the Vatican on January 1st, 2022. Tiziana FABI / AFP

Marking the 55th World Day of Peace, the head of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics devoted his Angelus address to encouraging a stop to violence around the world, telling the assembled crowd at Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City to keep peace at the forefront of their thoughts.

“Let’s go home thinking peace, peace, peace. We need peace,” said the pope, speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace under sunny skies.

“I was looking at the images in the television programme ‘In His Image’ today, about war, displaced people, the miseries. This is happening today in the world. We want peace,” he added, referring to a religious broadcast on Italian state television.

The pope — who turned 85 on December 17th — reminded the faithful that peace required “concrete actions,” such as attention to the most fragile, forgiving others and promoting justice.

“And it needs a positive outlook as well, one that always sees, in the Church as well as in society, not the evil that divides us, but the good that unites us!” he added.

“Getting depressed or complaining is useless. We need to roll up our sleeves to build peace.”

Pope Francis celebrates the New Year’s day mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on January 1st, 2022. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

Francis, who in March begins the ninth year of his papacy, called violence against women an insult to God during a mass in honour of the Virgin Mary earlier Saturday in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

“The Church is mother, the Church is woman. And since mothers bestow life and women ‘keep’ the world, let us all make greater efforts to promote mothers and to protect women,” he said.

“How much violence is directed against women! Enough! To hurt a woman is to insult God, who from a woman took on our humanity.”

‘Uncertain, difficult times’
To mark the World Day of Peace, Francis recommended education, labour and intergenerational dialogue as building blocks for peace.

“Teaching and education are the foundations of a cohesive civil society capable of generating hope, prosperity and progress,” the pope wrote in a message published by the Vatican on December 21st, noting that military spending had increased beyond Cold War levels.

“It is high time, then, that governments develop economic policies aimed at inverting the proportion of public funds spent on education and on weaponry,” wrote the pontiff.

The pope, who has spent much of his papacy highlighting economic inequality, the plight of migrants and the environment, returned to those themes following his Angelus prayer on Saturday.

“We are still living in uncertain and difficult times due to the pandemic.

Many are frightened about the future and burdened by social problems, personal problems, dangers stemming from the ecological crisis, injustices and by global economic imbalances,” said the pope.

“Looking at Mary with her Son in her arms, I think of young mothers and their children fleeing wars and famine or waiting in refugee camps.”

Pope Francis as arrives to celebrates a mass during the first Vespers and Te Deum prayer in Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on December 31st, 2021. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

On New Year’s Eve, Pope Francis did not preside over vespers at St Peter’s Basilica as planned, instead turning the service over to the dean of the College of Cardinals, Giovanni Battista Re, the dean of the College of Cardinals.

The pointiff read the homily but spent most of the service seated on the sidelines.

The previous year, Francis was unable to celebrate New Year’s masses because of a painful sciatica.

On Friday, the Vatican cancelled the pope’s traditional visit to the Nativity Scene in Saint Peter’s Square over coronavirus concerns.

As elsewhere in Europe, Italy — and by extension the tiny Vatican City State — is facing a surge in coronavirus cases fuelled by the new Omicron variant.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What are Italy’s new Covid quarantine rules?

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‘Vatican Girl’ disappearance: Italian prosecutors investigate teenager’s uncle

Rome prosecutors investigating the disappearance of teenager Emanuela Orlandi 40 years ago are looking into the possible involvement of her uncle following information supplied by the Vatican, Italian media reported on Tuesday.

'Vatican Girl' disappearance: Italian prosecutors investigate teenager's uncle

Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old daughter of a Vatican employee, was last seen leaving a music class in Rome on June 22nd, 1983.

Decades of speculation followed over what happened to her, with suggestions that mobsters, the secret services or a Vatican conspiracy were to blame – theories which sparked a hit Netflix series.

The Vatican has been accused of obstructing investigation efforts over the decades, but eventually launched an inquiry into its most famous cold case in January.

READ ALSO: Rome opens new investigation into ‘Vatican Girl’ disappearance

Rome prosecutors in May then opened their own fresh probe – the third so far.

The Vatican recently passed its case files to Rome, saying they included “some lines of inquiry worthy of further investigation”.

Those include a letter in which a priest told the Vatican’s then secretary of state that Orlandi’s older sister Natalina had revealed during confession that her uncle, Mario Meneguzzi, had sexually abused her, Italian television channel La 7 said on Monday.

Orlandi’s brother Pietro, who has for years campaigned for the truth and believes the Vatican knows what happened to Emanuela, reacted angrily to the La 7 report.

“They cannot put it all on the family. I am furious,” he told the news agency AdnKronos, saying the Vatican had “crossed the line” by implicating his uncle.

Rome prosecutors are now reportedly looking again at Meneguzzi, who was only superficially investigated during the original probe.


Meneguzzi, who died several years ago, looked remarkably similar to an identikit drawing of a man spotted talking to Emanuela in the street after her music lesson, La 7 said.

He also played a key role in the months following her disappearance, answering the calls of the purported kidnappers, the report said.

Meneguzzi had ties to the secret service, and managed to get the family a lawyer paid for by the service, it said.

During the first, brief investigation into him, he was also warned by the service that he was being tailed by police, it said.

Meneguzzi told investigators at the time that he was out of Rome on the day the teenager disappeared, in the village of Torano, east of the capital, along with several relatives including Emanuela’s father Ercole, according to the Open online newspaper.

But Ercole Orlandi told investigators on several occasions that he was not in Torano that day, but in Fiumicino, west of Rome, Open said.

The Corriere della Sera’s investigative reporter Fabrizio Peronaci said on Tuesday he had also uncovered information that the kidnappers had insisted from the start that Meneguzzi be their point person for the ransom negotiations.

The twists and turns of the case were documented in a 2022 TV series by Netflix, “Vatican Girl”, though it did not look at Meneguzzi

In the documentary, a friend claimed the teen confided the week before she disappeared to having been harassed in the Vatican gardens by a figure close to then pope John Paul II.

Another claim often repeated in the Italian media was that she was taken to force the release from prison of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk who attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981.