Vatican City, 21 June 2014 (VIS) – After his encounter with the detainees at Castrovillari, the Holy Father transferred by helicopter to Cassano all'Jonio where he landed at around 11 a.m., and was welcomed by the local authorities in the “Pietro Toscano” sports field. From there, he went on to the nearby “San Giuseppe Moscati” centre for the elderly, where he spoke with residents. Finally, in the cathedral, he met with the priests of the diocese and delivered the text of his address based on two themes: the joy of the priesthood and the beauty of brotherhood.
“I wish to share with you the ever-new surprise of having been called … by the Lord Jesus”, he writes. “Called to follow Him, to stay with Him, to bring Him to others. … When we are before the Tabernacle … Jesus' gaze renews us. Effectively, it is not easy to stay there, before the Lord, as we are always busy with so many things, with so many people … but at times it is not easy also because Jesus' gaze unsettles us … and challenges us. But this is good for us! In the silence of prayer, Jesus enables us to see whether we are like good workers, or if we have become rather like 'functionaries'; if we are open and generous channels through which His love and His grace flow, or if instead we place ourselves at the centre, and in the place of channels we become 'screens' which do not help in the encounter with the Lord, with the light and strength of the Gospel”.
The beauty of fraternity is that of “following the Lord … not one by one, but together, with our great variety of gifts and personalities; indeed, it is precisely this that enriches the priesthood: this variety in terms of provenance, age, and talents. … It is all lived in communion, in fraternity”. He adds, “and this too is not easy, it is not immediate or to be taken for granted. Firstly because we priests, too, are immersed in today's subjectivist culture, this culture that exalts the 'I' to the point of idolatry. And then also due to a certain pastoral individualism that is unfortunately widespread in our dioceses. We must therefore react to this with the choice of fraternity. I refer intentionally to 'choice'. It cannot simply be something that is left to chance; … no, it is a choice, that corresponds … to the gift that we have received but which must always be welcomed and cultivated: communion in Christ I in the priesthood, around the bishop. This communion needs to be experienced by seeking concrete forms suitable to the times and the specific situation of the territory, but always with an apostolic view, with a missionary style, with fraternity and simplicity of life”.
Pope Francis adds a third theme: that of staying with families and working for them. “It is a task that the Lord asks of us especially in this time that is difficult both for the family as an institution and for families affected by the crisis. But it is precisely in difficult times that God makes us aware of His vicinity, His grace and the prophetic strength of His Word. And we are called upon to be witnesses and mediators of this vicinity to families and this prophetic strength for the family”, he concludes.
After leaving the cathedral, the Pope proceeded to the bishop's residence followed by the seminary, where he lunched with the poor assisted by the diocesan branch of Caritas and the young people assisted at the Saman Mauro Rostagno rehabilitation centre. After lunch, he transferred by car to the Casa Serena where he met with elderly residents, and finally continued on his trip to Sibari.