Vatican City, 5 April 2014 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the members of the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI), whose president is the mayor of Turin, Piero Fassino. In his address, the Holy Father mentioned Cardinal Michel Pellegrino, archbishop of the city from 1965 and 1977 who, he revealed, helped the Bergoglio family find work in the post-war period.
“His gesture was a beautiful one”, said the Pope, addressing the president of the ANCI. “It recalls these men of the Church, these man and women of the Church – priests, nuns, laypeople – who knew how to walk alongside their people, within and next to their people. And the identity of the mayor is a little like this. … The mayor is surrounded by the people. It is inconceivable that a mayor is not there, because the mayor is a mediator, in the midst of the needs of the people. And the danger is that of becoming a mayor who is not a mediator, but rather an intermediary”.
The difference between one and the other, Pope Francis explained, is that “the intermediary exploits the needs of the various acts and takes a part for himself. … Instead, the mediator, is one who gives his life for the unity and the needs of his people, to help them along. After a period of time dedicated to the work of a mayor, these men or women tire and need to rest a little, but nevertheless their hearts are full of love because they have acted as mediators. And this is what I wish for you: that you will be mediators. In the midst of your people, to create unity, to make peace, to resolve problems and to answer to the needs of the people”.
“I think of Jesus: he was not a mayor, but perhaps the image is useful to us. I think of Jesus in a moment of his life, when he was in the midst of the crowds: the crowd pushed him, the Gospel tells us, almost to the point of not being able to breathe. And this is how the mayor should be, with his people, with him, with her, because this means that the people seek him because he knows how to answer, as they did with Jesus. This is what I wish for you. Tiredness, in the midst of the people, and that the people seek you because they know that you always know how to respond well to them”.