Vatican City, 21 June 2015 (VIS) - “I could not visit Turin without stopping in this house: the Little House of Divine Providence [Cottolengo], founded almost two centuries ago by St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo. Inspired by the merciful love of God the Father and trusting fully in His Providence, he welcomed the poor, abandoned and sick who could not be received in hospitals at that time”, said the Pope to the patients and differently-abled persons who awaited him at the Cottolengo in Turin following his meeting with the Salesians.
After blessing and personally greeting each person present, the Pope gave a brief address in which he remarked that “the exclusion of the poor and their difficulty in receiving the necessary assistance and treatment is a situation that unfortunately still exists today. Great progress has been made in medicine and in social assistance, but a culture of waste remains widespread as a consequence of an anthropological crisis that instead of placing man at the centre, favours consumption and economic interests”.
He continued, “among the victims of this culture of waste, I would like to mention the elderly in particular … they are the memory and wisdom of the people. Their longevity is not always considered as a gift from God, but at times instead as a difficult burden to bear, especially when their health is compromised. This mentality is not good for society, and our task is to develop 'antibodies' against this way of looking at the elderly or persons with disabilities, as if theirs were lives no longer worth living. It is a sin, a grave social sin! Instead, Cottolengo loved these people with great tenderness. Here we can learn another outlook on life and on the person. … From him we can learn the reality of evangelical love, so that many poor and sick people may find a home, live as if they were in a family, and feel that they belong to a community rather than being excluded and tolerated”.
“Dear patients, brothers and sisters: you are valuable members of the Church!” exclaimed the Pope. “You are the flesh of Christ crucified, whom we have the honour of touching and serving with love. With the grace of Jesus we can be witnesses and apostles of the divine mercy that saves the world. Looking upon the crucified Christ, full of love for me, and also with the help of those who care for you, you will find the strength and the consolation to bear your cross each day”.
“The reason for the existence of this little house is not mere assistance, or philanthropy, but the Gospel: … Jesus' predilection for the frailest and weakest. And therefore work like this cannot be carried out without prayer … as shown by the six monasteries of nuns of contemplative life linked to it”, concluded the Holy Father, who went on to thank the priests and men and women religious of Turin, in the Cottolengo and throughout the world. “Along with many lay workers, volunteers and 'Friends of the Cottolengo', you are called upon to continue, with creative fidelity, the mission of this great saint of charity”.