Pope: Now's the time to end indifference, 'false neutrality'

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Pope: Now's the time to end indifference, 'false neutrality'
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 01: Pope Francis attends the opening of the Holy Door at the papal Basilica of St Mary Major on January 1, 2016 in Vatican City, Vatican. The Basilica of St Mary Major is one of the oldest churches dedicated to the Mother of God. Pope Francis chose the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God to open the Holy Door. Since the Jubilee Year of 1500, Holy Doors have been opened at all four of the Major Basilicas in Rome. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 01: Pope Francis attends the opening of the Holy Door at the papal Basilica of St Mary Major on January 1, 2016 in Vatican City, Vatican. The Basilica of St Mary Major is one of the oldest churches dedicated to the Mother of God. Pope Francis chose the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God to open the Holy Door. Since the Jubilee Year of 1500, Holy Doors have been opened at all four of the Major Basilicas in Rome. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 01: Pope Francis attends the opening of the Holy Door at the papal Basilica of St Mary Major on January 1, 2016 in Vatican City, Vatican. The Basilica of St Mary Major is one of the oldest churches dedicated to the Mother of God. Pope Francis chose the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God to open the Holy Door. Since the Jubilee Year of 1500, Holy Doors have been opened at all four of the Major Basilicas in Rome. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 01: Pope Francis attends the opening of the Holy Door at the papal Basilica of St Mary Major on January 1, 2016 in Vatican City, Vatican. . The Basilica of St Mary Major is one of the oldest churches dedicated to the Mother of God. Pope Francis chose the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God to open the Holy Door. Since the Jubilee Year of 1500, Holy Doors have been opened at all four of the Major Basilicas in Rome. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 01: Pope Francis attends the opening of the Holy Door at the papal Basilica of St Mary Major on January 1, 2016 in Vatican City, Vatican. . The Basilica of St Mary Major is one of the oldest churches dedicated to the Mother of God. Pope Francis chose the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God to open the Holy Door. Since the Jubilee Year of 1500, Holy Doors have been opened at all four of the Major Basilicas in Rome. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 01: Pope Francis attends the opening of the Holy Door at the papal Basilica of St Mary Major on January 1, 2016 in Vatican City, Vatican. The Basilica of St Mary Major is one of the oldest churches dedicated to the Mother of God. Pope Francis chose the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God to open the Holy Door. Since the Jubilee Year of 1500, Holy Doors have been opened at all four of the Major Basilicas in Rome. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis asperses incense as he celebrates a mass after opening the Holy door of the St. Mary Major's Basilica in Rome, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 01: Pope Francis attends the opening of the Holy Door at the papal Basilica of St Mary Major on January 1, 2016 in Vatican City, Vatican. . The Basilica of St Mary Major is one of the oldest churches dedicated to the Mother of God. Pope Francis chose the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God to open the Holy Door. Since the Jubilee Year of 1500, Holy Doors have been opened at all four of the Major Basilicas in Rome. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis leads a mass at St Mary Major basilica where he opened a 'Holy Door' as part of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, on January 1, 2016 in Rome. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis leads a mass at St Mary Major basilica where he opened a 'Holy Door' as part of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, on January 1, 2016 in Rome. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis opens the Holy door of the St. Mary Major's Basilica as part of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, on January 1, 2016 in Rome. AFP PHOTO POOL / GREGORIO BORGIA / AFP / POOL / GREGORIO BORGIA (Photo credit should read GREGORIO BORGIA/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 01: Pope Francis attends a mass on the World Peace Day at the St. Peter's Basilica on January 1, 2016 in Vatican City, Vatican. During the new year's day dedicated to the Mother of God, the Pontiff open this afternoon the Holy Door of the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 01: Pope Francis arrives at the St. Peter's Basilica for a mass on the World Peace Day on January 1, 2016 in Vatican City, Vatican. During the new year's day dedicated to the Mother of God, the Pontiff open this afternoon the Holy Door of the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 01: German Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller arrives at the St. Peter's Basilica for a mass on the World Peace Day on January 1, 2016 in Vatican City, Vatican. During the new year's day dedicated to the Mother of God, the Pontiff open this afternoon the Holy Door of the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis celebrates a mass after opening the Holy door of the St. Mary Major's Basilica in Rome, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 01: Pope Francis kisses the Baby Jesus as he arrives at the St. Peter's Basilica for a mass on the World Peace Day on January 1, 2016 in Vatican City, Vatican. During the new year's day dedicated to the Mother of God, the Pontiff open this afternoon the Holy Door of the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 01: Pope Francis attends a mass on the World Peace Day at the St. Peter's Basilica on January 1, 2016 in Vatican City, Vatican. During the new year's day dedicated to the Mother of God, the Pontiff open this afternoon the Holy Door of the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis asperses incense as he celebrates a mass after opening the Holy door of the St. Mary Major's Basilica in Rome, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis leads a mass at St Mary Major basilica where he opened a 'Holy Door' as part of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, on January 1, 2016 in Rome. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis celebrates a mass after opening the Holy Door of the St. Mary Major's Basilica in Rome, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis delivers his blessing from his studio's window during the Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. Welcoming the new year Friday, Pope Francis called for an end to the ââarrogance of the powerfulââ relegating the weak to squalid outskirts of society and to the ââfalse neutralityââ to conflicts, hunger and persecution triggering a sometimes-deadly exodus of refugees. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis leaves at the end of a New Year mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis delivers his message as he celebrates a New Year mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis holds up the book of the Gospels as he celebrates a New Year mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis, background center, celebrates a New Year mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Wishing for a year better than 2015, Pope Francis on Friday called for an end to the "arrogance of the powerful" that relegates the weak to the outskirts of society, and to the "false neutrality" toward conflicts, hunger and persecution that triggers exoduses of refugees.

In his New Year's homily, Francis emphasized the need to "let ourselves be reborn, to overcome the indifference which blocks solidarity, and to leave behind the false neutrality which prevents sharing."

After celebrating Mass, the pope came to the window of a Vatican palazzo overlooking St. Peter's Square to offer new year's wishes to a crowd of tens of thousands of tourists and Romans cheering him from below.

"At the start of the year, it's lovely to exchange wishes. Let's renew, to one another, the desire that that which awaits us is a little better" than what last year brought, Francis said. "It is, after all, a sign of the hope that animates us and invites us all to believe in life."

"We know, however, that with the new year, everything won't change and that many of yesterday's problems will also remain tomorrow," the pope said, adding that he was making a "wish sustained by a real hope."

As he did in his homily earlier in St. Peter's Basilica, the pope issued a caution that "the enemy of peace isn't only war, but also indifference," and he decried "barriers, suspicions, fears and closures" toward others.

In the New Year's homily in St. Peter's, he had reflected on the "countless forms of injustice and violence which daily wound our human family."

"Sometimes we ask ourselves how it is possible that human injustice persists unabated, and that the arrogance of the powerful continues to demean the weak, relegating them to the most squalid outskirts of our world." He continued: "We ask how long human evil will continue to sow violence and hatred in our world, reaping innocent victims."

Francis cited no country, continent or conflict. But his words clearly evoked images of the refugees and migrants, more than 1 million of whom flooded into Europe from Africa, the Middle East and Asia in 2015, on dangerous sea or overland journeys. He spoke of "witnessing hordes of men, women and children fleeing war, hunger and persecution, ready to risk their lives simply to encounter respect for their fundamental rights."

The Catholic church dedicates New Year's Day to the theme of peace, and Francis this year is stressing mercy as the path toward reconciliation.

To highlight the benefits springing from forgiveness and reconciliation in the world, Francis declared a Holy Year of Mercy, which began last month and runs through November 2016. Early Friday evening, he was to visit a Rome basilica, St. Mary Major, where he sometimes slips away to pray, to open a normally sealed Holy Door as a symbolic threshold to cross toward mercy for Catholic faithful.

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Frances D'Emilio is on twitter at www.twitter.com/fdemilio


Pope Calls for End to Injustice and Apathy

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