Pope Francis’s new year message isn’t a prophecy for 2019.

It is a simple message appreciating the role of mothers in humanity.

The pontiff ushered in the new year with an ode to motherhood, reminding the faithful that a mother’s example and embrace is the best antidote to today’s disjointed world of solitude and misery.

Francis celebrated mass in St Peter’s Basilica to formally open 2019, a January 1 tradition that is dedicated both to the Madonna and the Catholic Church’s call for peace.

“How much dispersion and solitude there is all around us. The world is completely connected, yet seems increasingly disjointed,” the pope said in his homily.

“It may well increase its profits, but it will no longer see others as children. It will make money, but not for everyone. We will all dwell in the same house, but not as brothers and sisters.”

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Francis urged Catholics to allow themselves to be led again as children are led by their mothers, saying “a world that looks to the future without a mother’s gaze is shortsighted”.

The new year follows a disastrous 2018 for Francis. Last year opened with the explosion of the global sex abuse scandal and ended with the sudden departures of the Vatican spokesman and deputy in a sign of discord and dysfunction within the Holy See.

Francis made no overt reference to the Church’s problems but called for Roman Catholics to remain rooted to it, saying: “Unity counts more than diversity.”

He also warned that Church risked becoming “a beautiful museum of the past” if people lost “the amazement of faith”.

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