Vatican City, 5 July 2014 (VIS) – The convocation of the Celestine Jubilee Year in the Cathedral Square of Isernia was the final act of Pope Francis' visit to the Italian region of Molise; the birthplace of the hermit Pietro da Morrone, the future Pope Celestine V (1209-1296), elected in the Conclave of 1292-1294 and who, after a five months abdicated from the papacy to resume his life as a hermit.
Francis addressed the citizens of Isernia from the main square and the focus of the city's life. “The square is the place where we meet as citizens, and the cathedral is the place where we meet with God, we listen to His Word, to live as brethren; brethren and citizens. In Christianity there is not opposition between sacred and profane, in this sense: citizens and brothers”.
“There is a powerful idea that has struck me, thinking of the legacy of St. Celestine V. He, like St. Francis of Assisi, had a very strong sense of God's mercy, and the fact that God's mercy renews the world. Pietro da Morrone, like Francis of Assisi, knew well the society of his time, with its great poverty. They were very close to the people, to the population. They had the same compassion of Jesus towards many people, for the weary and the oppressed; but he did not limit himself to dispensing good advice, or pious consolations. They were the first to choose a way of living that went against the grain; they chose to entrust themselves to the Providence of the Father, not only in terms of personal ascesis but as a prophetic witness to the paternity and fraternity that constitute the message of Jesus Christ's Gospel”.
“And it always strikes me that with their strong compassion for the people, these Saints felt the need to give the people the greatest wealth they could offer: the Father’s mercy and forgiveness. 'Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us'. In these words of the Lord's prayer there is a whole plan for life, based on mercy. Mercy, indulgence, the remission of debts, are not merely devotional, intimate, a spiritual palliative. No! This is the prophecy of a new world, in which the goods of the earth and of work are fairly distributed and no one is deprived of necessities, because solidarity and sharing are the concrete consequence of fraternity. These two Saints offer us an example. They knew that, as clerics – one was a deacon, the other was a bishop, the Bishop of Rome – as clerics, they should both set an example of poverty, mercy and their full abnegation of themselves”.
“Here, therefore, there is the meaning of a new citizenship, which we feel strongly here, in this Square in front of the Cathedral, where we speak of the memory of Saint Pietro da Morrone, Celestine V. Herein is the very timely meaning of the Jubilee Year, this Celestine Jubilee Year, which I declare open from this moment, and during which the door of Divine Mercy will be open wide for all. It is not a flight, it is not an evasion of reality and its problems; it is the answer that comes from the Gospel: love as force of purification of consciences, the force of renewal of social relations, force of plans for a different economy, placing the person, work and family at the centre, rather than money and profit”.
He continued, “We are all aware that this way is not that of the world; we are not dreamers or naive, nor do we wish to create oases outside the real world. Rather, we believe that this way is the one that is good for all; it is the way that brings us close to justice and peace. However, we also know that we are sinners, that we are always tempted not to follow this way but instead to conform to the mentality of the world, the mentality of power, the mentality of wealth. Therefore, we entrust ourselves to God’s mercy, and we commit ourselves, with His grace, to bear fruits of conversion and works of mercy. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, always accompany and support us on this path”.
With the convocation of the Jubilee Year, the Holy Father's visit to Molise came to an end. He departed by helicopter at 7.30 p.m., arriving in the Vatican at 8.15 p.m.