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Monday, July 7, 2014


Vatican City, 7 July 2014 (VIS) – The following is the full text of the homily pronounced this morning by Pope Francis during the Mass celebrated in the Sanctae Marthae Chapel, attended by six victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy.

“The scene where Peter sees Jesus emerge after a terrible interrogation… Peter whose eyes meet the gaze of Jesus and weeps… This scene comes to my mind as I look at you, and think of so many men and women, boys and girls. I feel the gaze of Jesus and I ask for the grace to weep, the grace for the Church to weep and make reparation for her sons and daughters who betrayed their mission, who abused innocent persons. Today, I am very grateful to you for having travelled so far to come here.

“For some time now I have felt in my heart deep pain and suffering. So much time hidden, camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained until someone realised that Jesus was looking and others the same … and they set about to sustain that gaze.

“And those few who began to weep have touched our conscience for this crime and grave sin. This is what causes me distress and pain at the fact that some priests and bishops, by sexually abusing minors, violated their innocence and their own priestly vocation. It is something more than despicable actions. It is like a sacrilegious cult, because these boys and girls had been entrusted to the priestly charism in order to be brought to God. And those people sacrificed them to the idol of their own concupiscence. They profane the very image of God in whose likeness we were created. Childhood, as we all know, young hearts, so open and trusting, have their own way of understanding the mysteries of God’s love and are eager to grow in the faith. Today the heart of the Church looks into the eyes of Jesus in these boys and girls and wants to weep; she asks the grace to weep before the execrable acts of abuse which have left life long scars.

“I know that these wounds are a source of deep and often unrelenting emotional and spiritual pain, and even despair. Many of those who have suffered in this way have also sought relief in the path of addiction. Others have experienced difficulties in significant relationships, with parents, spouses and children. Suffering in families has been especially grave, since the damage provoked by abuse affects these vital family relationships.

“Some have even had to deal with the terrible tragedy of the death of a loved one by suicide. The deaths of these so beloved children of God weigh upon the heart and my conscience and that of the whole Church. To these families I express my heartfelt love and sorrow. Jesus, tortured and interrogated with passionate hatred, is taken to another place and he looks out. He looks out upon one of his own torturers, the one who denied him, and he makes him weep. Let us implore this grace together with that of making amends.

“Sins of clerical sexual abuse against minors have a toxic effect on faith and hope in God. Some of you have held fast to faith, while for others the experience of betrayal and abandonment has led to a weakening of faith in God. Your presence here speaks of the miracle of hope, which prevails against the deepest darkness. Surely it is a sign of God’s mercy that today we have this opportunity to encounter one another, to adore God, to look in one another’s eyes and seek the grace of reconciliation.

“Before God and his people I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you. And I humbly ask forgiveness.

“I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves. This led to even greater suffering on the part of those who were abused and it endangered other minors who were at risk.

“On the other hand, the courage that you and others have shown by speaking up, by telling the truth, was a service of love, since for us it shed light on a terrible darkness in the life of the Church. There is no place in the Church’s ministry for those who commit these abuses, and I commit myself not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not. All bishops must carry out their pastoral ministry with the utmost care in order to help foster the protection of minors, and they will be held accountable.

“What Jesus says about those who cause scandal applies to all of us: the millstone and the sea.

“By the same token we will continue to exercise vigilance in priestly formation. I am counting on the members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, all minors, whatever religion they belong to, for they are little flowers which God looks lovingly upon.

“I ask this support so as to help me ensure that we develop better policies and procedures in the universal Church for the protection of minors and for the training of church personnel in implementing those policies and procedures. We need to do everything in our power to ensure that these sins have no place in the Church.

“Dear brothers and sisters, because we are all members of God’s family, we are called to live lives shaped by mercy. The Lord Jesus, our Saviour, is the supreme example of this; though innocent, he took our sins upon himself on the cross. To be reconciled is the very essence of our shared identity as followers of Jesus Christ. By turning back to him, accompanied by our most holy Mother, who stood sorrowing at the foot of the cross, let us seek the grace of reconciliation with the entire people of God. The loving intercession of Our Lady of Tender Mercy is an unfailing source of help in the process of our healing.

“You and all those who were abused by clergy are loved by God. I pray that the remnants of the darkness which touched you may be healed by the embrace of the Child Jesus and that the harm which was done to you will give way to renewed faith and joy.

“I am grateful for this meeting. And please pray for me, so that the eyes of my heart will always clearly see the path of merciful love, and that God will grant me the courage to persevere on this path for the good of all children and young people. Jesus comes forth from an unjust trial, from a cruel interrogation and he looks in the eyes of Peter, and Peter weeps. We ask that he look at us and that we allow ourselves to be looked upon and to weep and that he give us the grace to be ashamed, so that, like Peter, forty days later, we can reply: 'You know that I love you'; and hear him say: 'go back and feed my sheep' –and I would add – 'let no wolf enter the fold'”.


Vatican City, 7 July 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office, the director, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., gave a briefing on the meeting of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and the Pope's encounter with the victims of abuse, which took place on 6 and 7 July.

“On Sunday 6 July, all members of the Commission met at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, coordinated by Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., with the collaboration of Msgr. Robert Oliver at an organisational level”, said Fr. Lombardi, who added that the issues under consideration were: “proposals for the selection and appointment of new members, to integrate the Commission with representatives from other geographical areas; the statutes of the Commission; the need to institute an operative Office; the possibility of organising working groups on specific themes with the collaboration of specialists and other institutions”. He added that time had also been dedicated to the preparation of the Holy Father’s meeting with a number of victims, scheduled for the following morning, 7 July.

The next meeting is scheduled to take place during the month of October. It is hoped that new members of the Commission will be present.

He went on the refer to the meeting of the Pope on the morning of Monday, 7 July with various victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy. “The invitees were six adults, three men and three women, from Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Each victim was accompanied by a family member or other companion. The invitation to meet the Pope had been made by Cardinal O’Malley in several countries where there exists a Church structure regarding the victims of sexual abuse”.

“The invitees arrived at the Domus Sanctae Marthae by the afternoon of Sunday 6 July. While they were dining in the refectory, the Holy Father appeared to address a first brief greeting to them. The Pope first offered them a Mass, celebrated in the Sanctae Marthae chapel at 7 a.m., attended also by the companions, members of the Commission and a limited number of other collaborators. The formula of the Mass was for peace and justice.
During Mass, the Pope pronounced a homily for them in Spanish; each participant was given a translation of the text in his or her own language. After Mass, the Pope greeted the individuals present, as usual”.

“After breakfast, the Pope received the individual visitors, with their companions, for a private personal discussion in a room in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, one after the other.
The discussions lasted from 9 a.m. to around 12.20 p.m. The participants, after the discussions, expressed their emotion and their satisfaction at having been listened to by the Pope with such attention and willingness”. The director of the Holy See Press Office concluded, “the Pope showed that listening helps to understand and prepare the way to reinstate trust, heal wounds, and to open up the possibility of reconciliation with God and with the Church”.


Vatican City, 7 July 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a letter to Archbishop Francesco Montenegro of Agrigento on the anniversary of his visit in July 2013 to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa to pray for the African immigrants who lost their lives when the boat they were travelling on capsized. “One year on, the problem of immigration is becoming worse, and tragedies of this type continue to occur with dogged regularity”, writes the Pope. “Our heart struggles to accept the death of these, our brothers and sisters, who face extenuating journeys to escape from dramatic situations, poverty, wars and conflicts, often linked to to international politics. Once again I spiritually reach out to the Mediterranean Sea to weep with all those who suffer and to launch flowers of prayer for the souls of the women, men and children who are victims of a drama that seems to be without end.”

In his letter, Pope Francis emphasises that this situation must be faced “not with the logic of indifference but with the logic of hospitality and sharing in order to protect and promote the dignity and centrality of every human being”. Likewise, the Pontiff encouraged “Christian communities and all people of good will to continue to reach out and lend a helping hand to all those who are in need, without counting the cost, without fear, with tenderness and understanding”, and expressed his hope that “the competent institutions, especially at the European level, may be more courageous and generous in relief for refugees”.


Vatican City, 6 July 2014 (VIS) – “Jesus invites us, saying 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest'”, said the Pope this morning, as he appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. “Jesus' words always give hope”, he continued. “This invitation extends to many brothers and sisters today, oppressed by poor living conditions, difficult life situations and, at times, with no valid points of reference”.

“In the poorest countries, and also in the peripheral areas of the richest, there are many people who are weary and exhausted under the unbearable weight of abandonment and indifference,” he said. “Indifference: who much damage human indifference causes to those in need! And the indifference of Christians is worse. At the margins of society there are many men and women who are sorely tested by poverty, but also by dissatisfaction and frustration. Many are compelled to emigrate at risk of their own lives. Many more every day, bear the weight of an economic system that exploits man, and imposes an unbearable 'yoke' upon them that the privileged few do not want to carry. To each of these sons of the Father who is in heaven, Jesus says, 'Come to me, all of you'".

Pope Francis added that Jesus address his invitation to all, even those “who possess everything” but whose hearts are “empty and without God”. “The invitation to come to Jesus is for everyone, but especially for those who suffer the most. Jesus promises to give solace to all, but also addresses a second invitation to us, which is like a commandment: ‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart’. The Lord's 'yoke' consists of sustaining the weight of others with brotherly love. Once the solace and comfort of Christ is received, we are called in turn to become solace and comfort for our brothers, with a meek and humble attitude, in imitation of the Master. This meekness and humility of heart helps us not only to take on the weight of others, but also to not impose upon them our own personal views, our judgements, our criticism and our indifference”.

The Holy Father concluded by greeting the faithful and commented that this year the Church commemorates the centenary of the death of St. Pius X. He also thanked the people of Molise for their warm welcome during his pastoral visit on Saturday.


Vatican City, 7 July 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Fr. Manuel Ochogavia Barahona, O.S.A., as bishop of Colon-Kuna Yala (area 8,167, population 290,000, Catholics 204,000, priests 32, religious 46), Panama. The bishop-elect was born in Las Tablas, Panama in 1967, gave his solemn vows in 1995, and was ordained a priest in 2002. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including professor and administrator of the “San Agustin” college in the diocese of David, Panama; and priest in the “San Jose” parish, David. He is currently prior of the convent and priest of the parish of Chitre, diocesan chancellor, member of the college of consultors, member of the council of his Order for Panama, delegate at the Organisation of Agostinians for Latin America, diocesan assessor for the “Movimiento Familiar Cristiano” and chaplain of the Regional University Centre of Azuero.

On Saturday, 5 July, the Holy Father:

- appointed Archbishop Antonio Arcari, currently apostolic nuncio in Mozambique, as apostolic nuncio in Costa Rica.

- appointed Bishop John Ebebe Ayah of Ogoja, Nigeria as bishop of Uyo (area 5,969, population 1,963,000, Catholics 737,000, priests 75, religious 58), Nigeria, and apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of the diocese of Ogoja.

- appointed Msgr. Luis Fernando Rodriguez as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Cali (area 2,504, population 2,821,000, Catholics 2,397,000, priests 405, permanent deacons 16, religious 1044), Colombia. The bishop-elect was born in Medellin, Colombia in 1959 and was ordained a priest in 1995. He holds a bachelor's degree in theology from the Pontifical Bolivarian University of Medellin, a licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome, a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Javerian University of Bogota, Colombia, and a licentiate in religious education from the Pontifical Bolivarian University of Medellin. He has served in a number of pastoral, academic and administrative roles, including formator and vice rector of the major seminary of Medellin, vice chancellor of the archdiocese of Medellin and secretary to the archbishop; priest of the parish of “Santa Maria la Virgen”, official of the Pontifical Council for the Family; priest of the parish of “El Sagrario”, adjunct judicial vicar of the archdiocesan tribunal; and professor, chaplain and rector of the Pontifical Bolivarian University of Medellin. He is currently vicar general of the archdiocese of Medellin.

- appointed Fr. Lukasz Miroslaw Buzun, O.S.P.P.E., as auxiliary of Kalisz (area 10,800, population 732,348, Catholics 726,000, priests 608, religious 536), Poland. The bishop-elect was born in Korycin, Poland in 1968, gave his perpetual vows in 1995 and was ordained a priest in 1996. He studied psychology at the Pontifical Faculty of Theology of Wroclaw and at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University of Warsaw, where he obtained his licentiate in theology of spirituality and his doctorate in theology. He has served in the monastery and parish of Wlodawa and in the monastery of Jasna Gora, where he was also deputy director of the radio of Jasna Gora. He is currently lecturer in spiritual theology in the faculty of theology of the Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University of Warsaw and prior of the monastery of Jasna Gora.



Vatican City, 5 July 2014 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father began his pastoral visit to the Italian region of Molise, a visit which took as its theme “God never tires of forgiving”.
He departed from the Vatican by helicopter at 7.45 this morning, landing an hour later at the heliport of the University of Molise in Campobasso, where he was received by the civil and religious authorities.

“God breaks all the moulds, if we do not have the courage to break moulds, we will not move ahead, as this is what our Lord presses us to do: to be creative with the future”, Pope Francis began his address. “The place where we meet is the University, and this is very significant, as it expresses the importance of research and training, also to respond to the new and complex questions the current economic crisis poses on a local, national and international level. This was shown a moment ago by the young farmer who chose to take a degree in agriculture and to work the land, 'by vocation'. Working as a farmer does not mean staying 'fixed' to the land, but rather engaging in dialogue, a fruitful and creative dialogue. It is the dialogue of man with the land that he renders productive, fruitful for all of us. … This is one of the great challenges of our age. Reconverting to a development that knows how to respect creation. I see in America, in my homeland; many forests swept away, that become land that cannot be cultivated, that can no longer give life. This is our sin: exploiting the land and not letting her give us what she has inside, with our help through cultivation”.

He went on to mention a second challenge, that of balancing working time with time for the family. “This is a 'critical' point, one which enables us to discern and to evaluate the human quality of the economic system in which we find ourselves”, he said, adding that this is linked to the question of Sunday work, “which affects not only believers, but everyone, as an ethical choice”. He emphasised that “a Sunday free of work affirms that the priority is not economic, but rather human, based on relations not of a commercial nature but rather of family, friendship, with God for believers, and with the community. Perhaps the moment has come to ask ourselves if working on Sunday is a true freedom”.

“Today”, he continued, “I would like to add my voice to those of the many workers and businesspeople … who ask for a 'pact for work'”, and mentioned that in spite of the economic crisis, “many jobs could be recovered by means of a strategy agreed with the national authorities”. He also encouraged those present to follow the path indicated by such a pact and to “seize the opportunities offered by national and European provisions, which may bear fruits here as in other regions”.

He then quoted another key word mentioned by a worker – dignity – affirming that “not having a job is not simply a question of not having the means to live: no. We can eat every day, we can go to Caritas, we can go to an association, a club, we can go there and they will give us something to eat. But this is not the problem. The problem is not being able to bring bread to the table at home: this is a serious problem, this takes away our dignity. And the most serious problem is not hunger, even though the problem exists. The most serious problem is that of dignity. For this reason we must work and defend the dignity that work gives us”.

Francis then gave thanks for a gift that was presented to him, a painting representing maternity. “Maternity involves labour, but the labour of childbirth is orientated to life and is full of hope. So, not only do I thank you for this gift; I thank you even more for the testimony it represents: that of a labour full of hope”. The Pope then left the University by car and transferred to the old Romagnoli stadium where he celebrated Mass.


Vatican City, 5 July 2014 (VIS) – The second event of the Holy Father's visit to Molise was the celebration of Mass in the Romagnoli stadium in Campobasso.

“Divine wisdom frees us from evil and oppression as much as it places us at the service of the Lord”, said the Pope in his homily. “Indeed, the Lord is not neutral, but rather with His wisdom, takes the side of those who are fragile, discriminated against and oppressed who trustfully abandon themselves to Him. The Church is a population that serves God, and lives in the freedom that He has given”, he continued. “Service to God is carried out in various ways, in particular in prayer, in worship, in proclaiming the Gospel and in the witness of charity. And the icon of the Church is always the Virgin Mary … who shows that the favoured path to serving the Lord lies in serving our brethren in need”.

Following the school of this Mother, “the Church must learn every day to be the 'servant of the Lord', and to be ready to go out towards those situations of greatest need. However, we are all called to the service of charity in our everyday lives. … The witness of charity is the principal route of evangelisation. In this, the Church has always been 'on the front line', sharing in the difficulties and the fragility of the people. … In this way the Christian community seeks to infuse in society that 'supplement of the soul' that allows us to look beyond and to hope”.

The Pope urged all members of the diocese to “persevere on this road, serving God in your service to your brethren and spreading the culture of solidarity everywhere. There is a great need for these efforts, in response to situations of material and spiritual precariousness, especially linked to unemployment”. The Pope described this latter problem as “a challenge that makes a special plea to the responsibility of institutions, of the worlds of business and finance. It is necessary to place the dignity of the human person at the centre of every perspective and all action. Other interests, while they may be legitimate, are secondary”.

“Therefore, the Church is the population that serves the Lord”, he emphasised, “and this is why she experiences liberation and lives in this freedom He gives her. … Freedom, above all, from sin, from selfishness in all its forms. … When we serve others, the Lord frees us from ambition and rivalry, that undermine the unity of communion. He frees us from distrust, sadness, fear, inner emptiness, isolation, regret, and complaint. … Christ frees us from existential mediocrity. … Therefore, as the Lord's disciples, while always remaining weak and sinners – we all are! – we are called upon to live with joy and courage our faith, our communion with God and our brethren, and the worship of God, and to face the difficulties and trials of life with strength”.

He concluded, “may the Holy Virgin, who you venerate as Our Lady of Liberty in Molise, offer you the joy of serving the Lord and of walking in the freedom He has given us. May Mary help you to be a maternal Church, welcoming and caring towards others. … May she be a sign of consolation and sure hope”.

After the Mass, the Pope transferred by car to the Cathedral for the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament, and to pray before the tombs of the bishops Alberto Romita and Secondo Bologna; the latter died during the bombing of the city in 1943. He then greeted a group of sick people and shortly before 1 p.m. he arrived at the House of Angels where he lunched with the poor assisted by Caritas and inaugurated the new charitable structure of the diocese.

At 2.15 p.m., after lunch, he transferred to the heliport of the University of Molise to continue his visit at the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows at Castelpetroso.


Vatican City, 5 July 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis arrived at the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows at Castelpetroso shortly after 3 p.m. to meet with the young of the diocese of Abruzzo and Molise. He prayed in the sanctuary for a short while, before proceeding to the forecourt to address the thousands of young people present, whom he thanked for their contagious enthusiasm and the festive atmosphere they had created.

“You are open … to hope and desirous of fullness, with the wish to give meaning to your future, to your entire life, to discern the right path for each one of you and to choose the road that brings you serenity and human fulfilment. … On the one hand, you are seeking that which truly counts, that remains stable in time and is definitive, you are seeking answers that enlighten your mind and warm your heart, not only for the duration of a morning or for a short portion of your path, but for ever. On the other hand, you feel a strong fear of making mistakes, the fear of being too involved in things, the temptation always to leave open a little escape route, that may always leave the way open to new scenarios and possibilities”.

“Contemporary society and its predominant cultural models – the culture of the provisional – does not offer a suitable climate for the formation of stable life choices, with solid bonds, built on a rock of love and responsibility rather than the sand of the emotions of the moment”, said Francis. “The aspiration to individual autonomy reaches the point of always putting everything in discussion and with relative ease breaking important and long-meditated decisions, life paths taken freely with commitment and dedication. This promotes superficiality in the assumption of responsibilities, since in the depths of the heart they risk becoming considered as something from which one can in any case be freed. Today I'll choose this, tomorrow I'll choose the other …. when my enthusiasm runs out I'll take a different route. And in this way our lives turn in one direction and another, like a maze. Stop! Look for the thread to find your way out of the labyrinth; you can't waste your life turning here and there”.

“However, the human heart aspires to great things, to important values, to profound friendships, bonds that are strengthened rather than broken by the trials of life. Human beings aspire to be loved, and to be loved definitively. Do not let yourselves be robbed of the desire to construct great and solid things in your lives! Do not be satisfied with half-measures! Aspire to happiness, have the courage to come out of yourselves, to play out fully your future together with Jesus”.

“We cannot do this alone. Under the pressure of events and fashions, alone we will never manage to find the right way, and even if we tried, we would not have enough strength to persevere, to face the uphill struggles and obstacles in our way. And here there enters the Lord Jesus' invitation to us: 'If you want … follow me'. He invites us and accompanies us along the way. … He loves us definitively, He has chosen us definitively, He gave Himself definitely to each one of us. … How good it is to be able to face the vicissitudes of existence in the company of Jesus, to be able to count on His Person and His message! He does not deprive us of our autonomy or freedom; on the contrary, strengthening us in our frailty, he enables us to be truly free, free to do good, strong enough to continue to do so, able to forgive and able to ask forgiveness”.

He continued, “A phrase I like to repeat, because we often forget, is: 'God never tires of forgiving'. He forgives definitively, he cancels and forgets our sin if we turn to Him with humility and trust. He helps us not to be discouraged in difficulties, and not to consider them insurmountable; and so, trusting in Him, you will cast your nets anew and obtain a surprising and abundant catch; you will have courage and hope also in facing the difficulties that result from the effects of the economic crisis. Courage and hope are gifts for all, but they belong in a special way to the young. The future is certainly in God's hands. This does not mean denying difficulties or problems, but rather to see them as temporary and surmountable. Difficulties and crises, with God's help and the good will of all, can be overcome, vanquished, and transformed”.

“I would not like to finish without saying a few words on a problem that affects you as you experience it in your current life: unemployment. … We cannot resign ourselves to losing a generation of young people who do not have the dignity of work! … A generation without work is a future defeat for the country and for humanity. … We must fight against this, and help each other to find a solution, through help and solidarity. … Solidarity is a Christian word, which means forging ahead alongside one's brother to help and to overcome problems. Be courageous, with hope and solidarity”.

The Pope concluded by commenting that the Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows was built in the place where two young girls saw the Virgin Mary while they were working in the fields. “Mary is a mother, and always comes to our assistance when we work and when we seek work, when we have clear ideas and when we are confused, when prayer comes spontaneously and when the heart is arid. Mary is the Mother of God, our mother, and mother of the Church”.


Vatican City, 5 July 2014 (VIS) – After taking leave of the young people at Castelpetroso, Pope Francis transferred by car to the penitentiary centre of Isernia, a journey of around half an hour, to visit the detainees. The meeting took place on the prison forecourt and, in his address to the inmates, the Holy Father insisted on the need for rehabilitation, “a path we must all undertake, because we all make mistakes in this life, and must all ask forgiveness for our errors”.

“Whoever says they have no need of rehabilitation is a liar!” he exclaimed. “And when we ask the Lord's forgiveness for our sins, for our mistakes, He always forgives us, he never tires of forgiving us. He says to us: 'Turn back from this road, because it will not do you good to go there'. And He helps us. And this is rehabilitation, the path that we must all take. The important thing is not to stay still. We all know that still waters become stagnant, they are the first to become impure. … We must move ahead, a step a day, with the Lord's help. God is the Father, He is merciful. … ”. He lifts us up and fully restores our dignity. … God does not forget us. And with this confidence we can walk on, day by day. And with this faithful love that accompanies, hope never disappoints. … Some think that they must take a path of punishment, of mistakes, of sins and that they must suffer, suffer, and suffer. It is true, one suffers. As one of your companions said, here one suffers. One suffers inside and outside, when one sees that he or she does not have a clear conscience and wishes to change it. It is a suffering that purifies, like fire that purifies gold; it is suffering with hope”.

“There is a beautiful thing when the Lord forgives us: he does not say, 'I forgive you, now get on by yourself!' No, He forgives us, takes us by the hand and helps us to go ahead on this path of rehabilitation, in our personal life and also in social life. He does this with all of us. To think that the inner order of a person may be corrected only through punishment, this is not God's way, this is mistaken. Some think, 'No, we should punish more, with longer sentences, more!'. This does not solve anything. Imprisoning people because – and forgive me for this – for the mere fact that if they are inside we are safe, this is not useful, it does not help us. The most important thing is what God does with us: He takes us by the hand and He helps us to go on. And this is called hope! And with this hope, with this trust, we can walk on, day by day. And with this faithful love, that accompanies us, truly hope never disappoints”.

Finally, the Pope told the detainees that every fifteen days he makes a telephone call to a prison in Buenos Aires to speak to the young inmates, and said, “When I meet one of you, who is in a detention centre, who is on the path to rehabilitation, but who is in custody, sincerely I ask myself this questions: why him and not me? This is what I feel. It is a mystery. But from this sentiment, with this feeling, I accompany you”.


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.
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