Editorial: New Year’s wishes

 As we end one year and look forward to another, many of us express our hopes and resolutions for the New Year. Pope Francis did this in a series of talks during the Christmas season, particularly the pontiff’s traditional Urbi et Orbi speech (“to the city and the world”). (The full text can be found on Page 17.) In it, Pope Francis wished for peace in the Middle East and in Africa. He called for an end to violence in Syria, Central African Republic and South Sudan. He expressed concern for religious conflict, and called for dialogue in Nigeria and the Holy Land. And he prayed for all those who are suffering from religious persecution and discrimination, and for the displaced and refugees.

Inspired by Pope Francis, we too have a list. We continue to pray for a growing appreciation of the inviolable dignity of all human life from conception to natural death. We give thanks for the growing awareness in this country of the harm caused by abortion and the increase in legislation protecting both the unborn and their mothers. In the coming year we wish for greater social awareness of the harm done to fathers who lose their children to abortion. May the New Year foster an appreciation for the handicapped and those suffering from illnesses that impair their capacities but not their innate human dignity. We must remain vigilant against those who, under the guise of mercy, seek the authority to end lives through physician-assisted suicide and other forms of euthanasia.

Most importantly, our wish for 2014 is that we all heed Pope Francis’ persistent call for all Catholics to deepen their relationships with Christ.

May this concern for others extend also to the immigrant. Understanding that many countries, not just ours, are struggling with the issues associated with the migration of peoples, may we recognize our kinship with all those seeking a better life for themselves and their families. In the coming year, our hope is that our leaders find the will to pass just and equitable immigration reform allowing those living in the shadows and their children to legalize their status and continue to contribute to the growth of our country.

In the coming year, and despite the gridlock of the last four years and the upcoming midterm election, we hope that our nation’s leaders will find a way to work together on the critical issues facing our country. Business leaders and employers seek a stable and predictable legislative environment if they are to make the investments necessary to grow the economy and produce badly needed jobs for our unemployed and our young adults. May our leaders recognize their responsibility to work together for the common good.

In 2014, the first of many religious liberty cases involving the Health and Human Services mandate forcing religious employers to provide abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception for their employees will make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the government persists in this unjust regulation and its punitive consequences, may the courts recognize that there is no compelling social need that justifies this violation of religious belief.

Finally, but most importantly, our wish for 2014 is that we all heed Pope Francis’ persistent call for all Catholics to deepen their relationships with Christ and to go forth as missionary disciples. When we are living the joy of the Gospel, then we can become the peacemakers and healers the world needs. When we encounter the living God, we can bear witness in the face of discrimination and injustice. And when we ourselves know the mercy and love of God, we can care for those who are forgotten, despised and unwanted.

Editorial Board: Greg Erlandson, publisher; Msgr. Owen F. Campion, associate publisher; Beth McNamara, editorial director; Gretchen R. Crowe, editor