Pope Francis' New Year's 2022 Message Calls Hurting Women 'an Insult to God'

Pope Francis has strongly condemned violence against women, telling in his New Year's Day homily that "to hurt a woman is to insult God."

Speaking at the Vatican on Saturday, the head of the Roman Catholic Church strongly condemned violence against women.

"How much violence is directed against women! Enough! To hurt a woman is to insult God, who from a woman took on our humanity," the pontiff said.

The pontiff, who recently celebrated his 85th birthday, also praised mothers in his address, saying they "look at the world not to exploit it but so that it can have life.

"Women who, seeing with the heart, can combine dreams and aspirations with concrete reality, without drifting into abstraction and sterile pragmatism."

He added that mothers "know how to overcome obstacles and disagreements, and to instill peace.

"In this way, they transform problems into opportunities for rebirth and growth. They can do this because they know how to 'keep,' to hold together the various threads of life."

He added: "We need such people, capable of weaving the threads of communion in place of the barbed wire of conflict and division."

Francis delivered his New Year's message during a mass at St. Peter's Basilica.

Except for the pope and members of a chorus made up of boys and adults, participants in the Mass wore face as part of COVID-19 precautions.

Francis, who is vaccinated against the disease, wore a surgical mask during a prayer service in what, according to the Associated Press, was a rare departure from his shunning of masks during public ceremonies throughout the two-year pandemic.

The pope's comments on violence against women echo those he made on Italian TV last month when he described violence against women as "almost Satanic."

In an interview which aired on Italy's TG5 TV network on December 18, 2021, Francis expressed concern about women "who are beaten and abused in their homes."

"The problem is that, for me, it is almost satanic because it is taking advantage of a person who cannot defend herself, who can only [try to] block the blows," the pope said.

"It is humiliating. Very humiliating," he said.

Francis also made reference to the Virgin Mary during that interview, as he drew on her during mass on Saturday. He was speaking to a woman named Giovanna who said she had left a violent home with her four children.

"I see dignity in you because if you didn't have dignity, you wouldn't be here," the pope told her. "Look at the Blessed Mother and stay with that image of courage."

Pope Francis Appears at an Audience
Pope Francis leads his general weekly audience on November 24, 2021 in Vatican City, Vatican. The pope strongly condemned violence against women in his New Year's Day homily. Alessandra Benedetti - Corbis/Getty Images