Pope Francis has offered his reflections for 2018 as he celebrated New Year's Day Mass in St. Peter's Basilica and later greeted some 40,000 people in St. Peter's Squar
The Catholic church designates Januray 1 as World Peace Day, and Pope Francis noted that this year's focus should be on building a peaceful and welcoming world, particularly for refugees and migrants.
"For this peace, that is a right of everyone, many of them are willing to risk their lives in a journey that is in the great majority of cases long and dangerous, willing to face hardships and suffering."
"Let us not extinguish the hope in their hearts. Let us not suffocate their expectations for peace."
The pope then prayed that people "work in this new year with generosity to realise a world that is more united and welcoming."
The Pontiff's message comes after a Spanish NGO, Proactiva Open Arms, rescued over 134 refugees and migrants, attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to reach Italy early on 26 December.
The were picked up by lifeguards approximately 24 miles (38.6 kilometres) off the Libyan coast aboard a rubber boat carrying 36 children, 24 of those unaccompanied.
The International Organization of Migration recorded more than 3,100 deaths among migrants making the Mediterranean crossing in 2017, but the actual number is likely higher since an unknown number of boats sink without rescue crews ever knowing.