Dear brothers and sisters,

This past year we have suffered contradictory feelings such as discouragement and hope. It has been a particular difficult year, full of affliction due to the spread of the coronavirus, which we considered more as a hostile intruder than a welcomed guest; a year that imposed a mask on our face, but dropped many other masks - false security, the myth of infallible progress, the idea of ​​being sheltered from great storms.

We found ourselves vulnerable and exposed to risks that were not within our control and we have all again learned to pronounce words like uncertainty, frailty, loneliness, fear. In these unpredictable and shocking months, we have witnessed the many deaths and sufferings of our people and the devastating consequences of the economic crisis.

But 2020 wasn't just that. Moments of fraternity, solidarity and service on the part of health workers, volunteers, law enforcement officers, priests and ordinary citizens have illuminated our time and opened our hearts to hope.

2021 sees the entry of the long-awaited vaccine which gives hope for a return of those activities that have remained suspended. Even in the shocking hour of trial we have had the sweet experience of being protected under the wings of God's Providence.

We do not know what 2021 has in store for us. As the days of the new calendar go by, we want to dream of days of peace, fraternity and renewed friendship. But of one thing we are sure: God will not fail to be close to us every day, flooding us with His Mercy. Let us all work together to advance towards a new horizon of love and peace, of fraternity and solidarity, of mutual support and mutual acceptance.

May the new year be a happy year for each of you and for your families, in the certainty that God will not fail to be by our side every day, showering us with His merciful love.

HAPPY YEAR OF PEACE AND GOD’s BLESSING

Monreale 31 December 2020
+ Michele Pennisi, Archbishop

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