Pope Francis' Address to Poor and Detainees
Cagliari, (ZENIT.org) | 1993 hits
Here is Pope Francis’ address to several poor people at the Cathedral of Cagliari who are helped by Caritas and several prisoners from the Casa Circondariale of Cagliari.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Thank you all for being here today. In your faces I see exhaustion, but I also see hope. Feel yourselves loved by the Lord and also by so many good persons, who with their prayer and their work help to alleviate the sufferings of their neighbor. I feel at home here. And I also hope that you feel at home in this Cathedral: as we say in Latin America, “this house is your house,” it is your house.
Here we feel strongly and concretely that we are all brothers. Here the only Father is our heavenly Father; the only Teacher is Jesus Christ. So the first thing I want to share with you is in fact this joy of having Jesus as Teacher, as model of life. We look at him! This gives us strength, so much consolation in our fragilities, in our miseries and in our difficulties. All of us have difficulties, all of us. All of us who are here have difficulties. All of us who are here –all – have miseries and all of us who are here have fragilities. No one here is better than another. We are all equal before the Father, all of us!
And looking at Jesus we see that He chose the way of humility and service. More than that, He himself in person is this way. Jesus was not undecided, he was not “non-committal “: he made a choice and he fulfilled it to the end. He chose to become man, and as man to be servant, to death on the cross. This is the way of love: there is no other. Because of this we see that charity is not simply welfarism, and less so welfarism to tranquilize consciences. No, that’s not love, that is business, that is business. Love is free. Charity, love is a choice of life, it is a way of being, of living, it is the way of humility and of solidarity. There is no other way for this love: to be humble and solidaristic. This word, solidarity, in this throw away culture – what is not useful is thrown out – so that only those who feel righteous, who feel pure, who feel clean remain. Poor things! This word, solidarity, risks being cancelled from the dictionary, because it is a word that is bothersome, bothersome, why? Because it obliges you to look at the other and to give yourself to the other with love. It’s better to take it out of the dictionary because it’s bothersome. And we don’t, we say: this is the way, humility and solidarity. Why? Did we priests invent it? No! It is Jesus’: He said it! And we want to walk on this way. Christ’s humility isn’t a moralism, a sentiment. Christ’s humility is real, it is the choice of being little, of being with the little ones, with the excluded, to be among us, sinners all. Be careful, it isn’t an ideology. It’s a way of being and of living that springs from love, from the heart of God.
This is the first thing, and I so like to talk about it with you. We look at Jesus: He is our joy, but also our strength, our certitude, because He is the sure way: humility, solidarity, service. There is no other way. In the statue of Our Lady of Bonaria, Christ appears in Mary’s arms. She, as a good Mother, points to him, she tells us to trust in Him.
But it’s not enough to look, we must follow! And this is the second aspect. Jesus did not come into the world to parade himself, to make himself seen. He did not come for this. Jesus is the way, and a way serves to walk on, to walk on it. So I wish first of all to thank the Lord for your commitment in following Him, also in exhaustion, in suffering between the walls of a prison. We continue to trust Him; He will give your heart hope and joy! I would like to thank Him for all of you who dedicate yourselves generously, here at Cagliari and in the whole of Sardinia, to the works of mercy. I want to encourage you to continue on this way, to go forward together, seeking to preserve first of all charity among you. This is very important. We cannot follow Jesus on the way of charity if we don’t first of all love one another, if we don’t make an effort to collaborate, to understand and at times to forgive one another, each one recognizing his/her own limitations and mistakes. We must do the works of mercy, but with mercy! with our hearts there. We must do the works of charity with charity, with tenderness, and always with humility! Do you know? Sometimes one finds arrogance in the service to the poor! I’m sure you’ve seen it. Arrogance in the service of those who are in need of our service. Some make themselves beautiful, filled their mouth with the poor, some instrumentalize the poor for personal interests or those of the group. I know it, it’s human, but it’s not right! This is not of Jesus. And I say more: this is sin! It is serious sin, because it is to use the needy, those who are in need, who are the flesh of Jesus, for one’s vanity! I use Jesus for my vanity, and this is a serious sin! It would be better if these persons stayed at home!
So: to follow Jesus on the way of charity, to go with Him to the existential fringes. “Jesus’ charity is an urgency!” said Paul (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:14). For the good Pastor what is far away, peripheral, what is scattered and scorned is object of greater care, and the Church cannot but make hers this predilection and this attention. In the Church, the first are those who have greater need, human, spiritual, material, more need.
3. And following Christ on the way of charity, we sow hope. To sow hope: this is the third conviction that I like to share with you. Italian society today is in great need of hope, and Sardinia in a particular way. Those who have the political and civil responsibility have their task, which, as citizens, we must support actively. Some members of the Christian community are called to be committed in this field of politics, which is a high form of charity, as Paul VI said. But as Church we all have a strong responsibility which is to sow hope with works of solidarity always seeking to collaborate in a better way with the public institutions, in respect of the respective competencies.
Caritas is the expression of the community, and the strength of the Christian community is to make society grow from within, as leaven. I am thinking of your initiatives with prisoners in jails; I am thinking of the voluntary work of so many associations, of solidarity with families that suffer more because of the lack of work. In this I say to you: courage! Don’t let yourselves be robbed of hope and go forward! Don’t let them rob you of it! On the contrary: sow hope! Thank you, dear friends! I bless you all, together with your families. And thanks to you all!
At the end of his address, the Pope recited the Our Father together with the poor and the prisoners present in the Cathedral, then he said the following words:
May the Lord bless you all: your families, your problems, your joys, your hopes. In the name of the Father, of the Don and of the Holy Spirit. And, please, I ask you to pray for me: I need it!
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by ZENIT]