In his New Year’s Day address, Pope Francis called upon global leaders to offer more assistance to migrants and refugees in 2018.

January has been designated World Peace Day by the Catholic Church. In that spirit, the pope praised those who have made “long and dangerous” journeys in an attempt to achieve a better future, saying that “Migrants and refugees: men and women seeking peace, this is the motto of this day.”

Pope Francis made his Angelus address on Monday before an audience of roughly 40,000 devotees in St. Peters Square, Vatican Police said.

“Please do not extinguish the hope in their hearts; we do not suffocate their peace expectations. It is important that everyone, civil institutions, educational, welfare and ecclesial realities are committed to ensuring refugees, migrants and everyone a future of peace,” the Pope said.

The rising number of migrants attempting to make the treacherous crossing across the Mediterranean from North Africa and the Middle East now constitutes a crisis.

The Pope traveled to Myanmar and Bangladesh in 2017, where the plight of minority Rohingya Muslims has attracted international condemnation amid allegations of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar’s southern western Rakhine state. Since violence broke out there last August, more than 620,000 Rohingya have become refugees. Many seek refuge in Bangladesh.

Earlier on Monday, the Pontiff urged his followers to “set aside a moment of silence each day to be with God is to ‘keep’ our soul.” He said that doing so would help “to keep our freedom from being corroded by the banality of consumerism, the blare of commercials, the stream of empty words and the overpowering waves of empty chatter and loud shouting,” Reuters reported.

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