Pope Francis urges tolerance to end violence

  • 1 January 2014
  • From the section Europe
Pope Francis addresses pilgrims from a balcony above St Peter's Square, 1 January
Image caption The Pope departed from his prepared text

The head of the Catholic Church has called for the world to unite against violence as a "community of brothers" in his first New Year blessing.

Addressing pilgrims in St Peter's Square, Pope Francis departed from his prepared text to vent frustration at the level of conflict in the world.

"What is happening in the heart of man?" he asked. "It's time to stop."

Without referring to any specific conflicts, he urged people to accept each other's differences.

"We belong to the same human family and we share a common destiny," he said, speaking from his studio window overlooking the crowds in the square at the Vatican.

"This brings a responsibility for each to work so that the world becomes a community of brothers who respect each other, accept each other in one's diversity, and take care of one another."

The Pope plans major reforms in Church organisation this year and will soon announce the appointment of a new group of cardinals to replace those who have died or reached the age of 80 in recent years, the BBC's David Willey reports from Rome.

He wants a Church that is less centred on the Vatican and to give more power to local bishops, our correspondent says.