Pope Francis celebrates a New Year's Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini) (Caption amended by RNS)

Pope on 2018: Forget life’s ‘useless baggage’

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis recommended jettisoning life's "useless baggage" in 2018, including what he called "empty chatter" and banal consumerism, and focusing instead on building a peaceful and welcoming world, particularly for refugees and migrants.

Francis offered his reflections on paring down nonessentials as he celebrated New Year's Day Mass on Monday in St. Peter's Basilica and later greeted some 40,000 people in St. Peter's Square.

His advice included setting aside a moment of silence daily to be with God. Doing so would help "keep 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 said.

"At the beginning of the year, we too, as Christians on our pilgrim way, feel the need to set out anew from the center, to leave behind the burdens of the past and to start over from the things that really matter," he said.

The Catholic church designates Jan. 1 as World Peace Day, and in his comments after Mass to the crowd in the square outside the basilica, Francis noted that this year's focus of the day was the search for peace by migrants and refugees.

"I desire, yet again, to speak for these our brothers and sisters who invoke for their future a horizon of peace," Francis said. "For this peace, which is the right of everyone, many of them are willing to risk their life in a voyage that is in the great majority of cases long and dangerous, willing to face hardships and suffering," the pontiff said.

Rohingya Muslims travel on a raft made with plastic containers on which they cross over the Naf River from Myanmar into Bangladesh, as children watch from the bank of the river near Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh, Nov. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad) (Caption amended by RNS)

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In the past few years, hundreds of thousands of migrants have crossed the Mediterranean from northern Africa in human traffickers' unseaworthy boats, desperate to reach European shores. The pope's foreign travels in 2017 included a voyage to Myanmar and Bangladesh, where the suffering of minority Rohingya Muslims, who have fled from the first country to take refuge in the second, was a central concern of his pilgrimage.

Francis in his appeal Monday said of refugees and migrants: "Let us not extinguish the hope in their hearts. Let us not suffocate their expectations for peace." He called for all to make commitments "to assure the refugees, the migrants, everyone, a future of peace."

The pope then prayed that people "work in this new year with generosity to realize a world that is more united and welcoming."


  1. Perhaps Francis could lead by example and stop his own empty chattering.

  2. The Vatican seems to ignore the parable of the Rich Young Ruler.

    The Vatican’s Wealth. Bankers’ best guesses about the Vatican’s wealth put it at $10 billion to $15 billion. Of this wealth, Italian stockholdings alone run to $1.6 billion, 15% of the value of listed shares on the Italian market.
    Why TAX Europeans and or Americans when the Vatican could clearly pay.

  3. Did anyone Tell Frank that his golden purse, swung by a golden chain, near his golden thrones, make any complaints about materialism rather hollow?

    Did anyone tell Frank that his golden purse is on fire?

    Did anyone tell Frank about a book called Hadrian VII?

  4. Give it all away, Mr Pope, keep little for yourself – betcha’ he can’t do it, hasn’t done it, send all of the willie yankers to prison, cut up the robes, send the nuns home, all you parading old farts-get a job, close the doors, turn out the lights, tear down the walls, then you can tell us how to live.

  5. Come on folks, give the man a break. AT least he is speaking up for those who can’t or won’t speak up for themselves.

    The Pope is actually caught between that proverbial rock and a hard place. Another way to put it is whatever he does he is damned if he does it and damned if he doesn’t do it!

    All of your negative comments are right, there is great wealth in the church, that could be spent for other purposes. They don’t practice what they preach. They speak with “forked tongue”. I could go on.

    BUT he is speaking for Peace and respect for immigrants and migrants, something our own president refuses to do.

  6. Wise words. Nothing to really disagree with him on this one. But, of course, it is nothing revolutionary.

  7. ” . . . feel the need to set out anew from the center, to leave behind the burdens of the past and to start over from the things that really matter,” he said.

    OK, so this spotlight and headline-grabbing pope wants us to “start over from the things that really matter.” How about he sets aside a fund from the Catholic church’s vast coffers and income to provide free therapy for burdens of the destroyed lives of adults today who were sexually molested by Catholic priests when they were children and youths. Oh, and this pope and his predecessor protected so many guys in colorful dresses in the Catholic hierarchy?

    After he’s done that, then ol’ Frankie-Baby can tell the rest of us about “the need to set out anew from the center, to leave behind the burdens of the past!”

  8. Instead of following the parable of the Rich Young Ruler, the popes have become the RICH OLD-FART RULERS!

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