Vatican City, 22 March 2015 (VIS) – The final stage of the Pope's visit to Naples yesterday took place on the Caracciolo seafront promenade, where he met with the people of the city. The Holy Father again answered three questions. The first was posed by a young woman who wanted to know how to interpret God's silence when faced with difficulties such as corruption, and how to respond to this with signs of hope.
“God, our God is a God of words, He is a God of gestures, and He is a God of silence. We know the God of words because in the Bible there are the words of God: God talks to us and seeks us. The God of gestures is the God around us. … And then there is the God of silence. Think of the great silences in the Bible: for instance, the silence in the heart of Abraham when he went to offer his son as a sacrifice. …. But God's greatest silence was the Cross: Jesus heard his Father's silence, to the point of defining it as abandonment. … And then there occurred God's miracle, that word, that grandiose gesture of the Resurrection. Our God is also the God of silence, and there are silences of God's that cannot be explained if you do not look to the Cross. For example, why do children suffer? Where is there a word from God to explain why children suffer? … I do not say that the silence of God can be 'understood', but we can draw nearer to God's silences by looking upon the crucified Christ, Christ abandoned from the Mount of Olives unto the Cross. … But 'God created us to be happy'. Yes, it is true. But very often He says nothing. And this is the truth. I cannot deceive you by saying, 'No, have faith and all will go well, you will be happy, you will have good fortune, you will have money …'. No, our God also remains in silence. Remember: He is the God of words, the God of gestures, and the God of silences, and you have to unite these three things in your life. This is what I can say to you. I am sorry. I have no other 'recipe'”.
The second question was from an elderly woman, aged 95, who thanked the Pope for his defence of old age, a gift that today's society does not appreciate or discards, and commented that she had found a Christian community that showed her affection and gave her strength, and which had become like a family to her.
“You used a key word for our culture: 'discard'. The elderly are discarded, because this society throws away what is no longer useful, what is 'disposable'. Children are not useful, so why have them? … We discard children, and we discard the elderly, because we leave them by themselves. We elderly have ailments and problems, and we bring problems to others, and people discard us perhaps because of these ailments, because we are no longer useful. And then there is this habit of – excuse the expression – leaving people to die, and since we like using euphemisms, we use a technical word: euthanasia. But euthanasia is carried out not only by injection; there is also a hidden euthanasia, that of no longer giving medicine, of not offering cures, of making life sad, and so one dies, one expires. … But this path that you have found is the best medicine for a long life: closeness, friendship, tenderness. … Solitude is the most potent poison for the elderly. … Sons and daughters, I remind you of the fourth commandment. Are you affectionate with your parents? Do you embrace them, do you tell them you love them? … Examine your consciences. Affection is the best medicine for the elderly”.
Finally, a married couple asked the Pope how best to communicate the beauty of the family, through a pastoral ministry of outreach rather than defence.
“The family is in crisis: this is true, and it is not new”, answered Francis. “Young people do not want to get married, preferring instead to live together, easily and without compromises; then, if a child comes along, they marry out of necessity. … The crisis of the family is a social reality. Then there are the ideological colonisations of the family, modes and proposals from Europe and also from overseas. The error of the human mind that is gender theory creates a lot of confusion. … What can we do, faced with such active secularisation? What can we do with these ideological colonisations? What can be done with a culture that does not consider the family, in which people prefer not to marry? I do not have a recipe: the Church is aware of this and the Lord has inspired the convocation of a Synod on the family, on its many problems. … For example, there is the problem of preparation for marriage. Preparation is not a question of a course: became a married couple in eight lessons. … It is another thing entirely. It begins at home, with friends, with youth, during engagement. Engagement has lost the sacred meaning of respect. Today, normally, engagement and cohabitation are almost the same thing. Not always, as there are good examples. How can we prepare an engagement to mature? It is like fruit. If you do not gather it when it is ripe, it is not good. But all this is a crisis, and I ask you to pray a lot. I have no recipes for this, but the witness of love and the witness of how to resolve problems are important”.
At the end of the meeting, the Pope transferred to the maritime station of Naples in order to depart by helicopter. He arrived in Rome at 7 p.m.