Pope Francis opened the New Year by highlighting the Jan. 1 feast of Mary, mother of Jesus, the central role women have played in salvation history and that they still have for bringing world peace.
The pontiff denounced violence against women, speaking as Italy engaged in national soul-searching about how to shed an entrenched culture of male chauvinism that often has led to femicide, Reuters News agency commented.
Francis has made numerous appeals for an end to violence against women in the past. But his words on New Year's Day were the first in a speech since ire erupted in Italy over the brutal killing of 22-year-old university student Giulia Cecchettin in November.
The killing triggered country-wide protests prompting calls for teaching respect for girls become part of school programs beginning at kindergarten level.
"Every society needs to accept the gift that is woman, every woman: to respect, defend and esteem women, in the knowledge that whosoever harms a single woman profanes God, who was born of a woman," he said.
WOMEN KILLED IN ITALY
The report cited Italy's interior ministry saying that more than 100 women were killed in 2023, about half of them by their partner or former partner and noted that femicide has become a common word in local newspaper headlines.
America, the Jesuit Review reported Francis saying, "God becomes man, and he does so through a woman, Mary. She is the means chosen by God, the culmination of that long line of individuals and generations that 'drop by drop' prepared for the Lord's coming into the world.
"She stands at the very heart of the mystery of time. It pleased God to turn history around through her, the woman.
"The Mother and Child mark a new creation, a new beginning," the Pope said; "the Lord, a tiny child in his mama's arms, has united himself forever to our humanity, to the point that it is no longer only ours, but his as well."
Pope Francis, spoke in a strong voice after recovering from pneumonia, reported America.
He said, "The church needs Mary in order to recover her own feminine face" which, he said, means making "space for women and [being] 'generative' through a pastoral ministry marked by concern and care, patience and maternal courage."
According to Unherd: The Post, in his speech Francis spoke about the rise of artificial intelligence.
Speaking in terms of regulation rather than complete condemnation, he asserted that AI "ought to serve our best human potential and our highest aspirations, not compete with them."
Esme Partridge wrote, central to his speech was the concept of limit: something, he remarked, that is "frequently overlooked in our current technoc ratic and efficiency-oriented mentality" and yet "decisive for personal and social development."