Pope Francis, in his New Year message for 2019 lamented a lack of global unity and warned against a soulless hunt for profit that benefits only a few and said later that politics is not merely the realm of political leaders.
He was looking forward after a bad year in which the UK newspaper Catholic Herald said, "2018 has been annus horribilis for the Catholic Church," referring to the way in which it had dealt with sexual scandals engulfing the church.
The Pope said in his traditional New Year's Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, "How much dispersion and solitude there is all around us. The world is completely connected, yet seems increasingly disjointed," Reuters reported.
In his homily he paid homage to motherhood, saying a world that looked to the future while forgetting "a mother's gaze" was shortsighted.
"It may well increase its profits, but it will no longer see others as children. It will make money, but not for everyone. We will all dwell in the same house, but not as brothers and sisters," he said.
The Pope closed his homily noting that man's salvation came from the smallness of a newborn child. Man's strength came from Jesus' fragility, man's freedom from his becoming a servant, he said, saying this is the heart of God's love for humanity, Crux reported.
Francis later addressed a huge crowd n St Peter's Square from the window of the apostolic palace on the 52nd World Day of Peace, introduced by Pope Paul VI.
The Pope said, "We do not think that politics should be reserved only to political leaders.
"Everyone is responsible for the life of the 'city,' for the common good; and even politics is good in the measure in which each one does his or her part 'in the service of peace'."
It was a tough year for Pope Francis and the Catholic Church in 2018, with The New York Times saying Francis had shown he was "tone deaf" sexual scandals besetting the church in different countries.
"Things started going downhill for Pope Francis this year on a plane returning from a trip to Chile. In a demonstration of remarkable tone deafness to the issue of clerical sex abuse — and to the media environment in which he operates — the Pope doubled down on accusations of calumny against survivors of clerical sexual abuse," the Times wrote Dec. 31.
The Catholic Herald wrote "This was the year that the abuse crisis engulfed the Church, and those in power failed to live up to the challenge."
The paper wrote, "An exhaustive list of the missteps and failures starting or ending at the Vatican would require a hefty tome.
"From the explosion of the abuse-and-coverup crisis — in Pope Francis's face, at the end of January — the worldwide body of the faithful has been treated to a relentless succession of half-measures, publicity stunts, and increasingly incredible promises of earnest coming from the Pope and the Vatican. None has been minimally sufficient, let alone satisfactory."