Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Pope Francis celebrated the new year at St. Peter's Basilica, where he celebrated Mass and likened God's love to a mother's love during his homily.
"Let us allow ourselves to be embraced," he said at the Vatican.
The pope cited a mother's loving embrace as the disposition needed to address the world's problems.
"We need to learn from mothers that heroism is shown in self-giving, strength in compassion, wisdom in meekness," the Catholic leader said.
Francis called on Catholics to look to the "Mother of God," saying: "Let us allow ourselves to be gazed upon, to be embraced, to be taken by the hand.' ''
The pope also addressed the crowds in St. Peter's Square from the window of the apostolic palace on the 52nd World Day of Peace, started by Pope John XXIII.
In the address, Francis 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.' "
He told those in attendance to join him in saying together "Holy Mother of God" three times before reciting the traditional Marian prayer.
One day earlier, Greg Burke, the Vatican communications director, and his deputy, Paloma García Ovejero, announced their resignations.
"Paloma and I have resigned, effective Jan. 1," Burke wrote on Twitter. "At this time of transition in Vatican communications, we think it's best the Holy Father is completely free to assemble a new team."
"One stage is ending. Thank you for these two and a half years," Garcia tweeted.
The pope's reshuffled communications team will be challenged in the new year, as a federal investigation of the scandal continues to unfold, and probes into sex abuse in the Catholic Church continue across the United States.
In recent years, critics have raised concerns about the pope's failure to address and take seriously the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal.
During a speech last year in Peru, Francis apologized for asking for evidence of abuse from victims while again casting doubt on their claims.
"Someone who accuses insistently without evidence, this is calumny," the pope said. "If I say, 'You stole something, you stole something,' I'm slandering you because I don't have evidence."