05/12/2007, 00.00
BRAZIL – VATICAN

God will call drug dealers to account, says Pope

At the Fazenda da Esperança drug and substance abuse centre, Benedict XVI urges young people who kicked the habit to carry the torch of hope that faith offers to people of their age and to society.

Aparecida (AsiaNews) – God shall call those who deal in drugs to account because “human dignity cannot be trampled upon in this way. The harm done will receive the same reproach that Jesus reserved for those who gave scandal to the ‘little ones’, God’s favourites (cf Mt 18: 7-10)”. Benedict XVI launched in what was almost an anathema against drug dealers, one that highlighted that hope comes with faith, stressing how the centre’s young recovering addicts can become hope’s standard bearers. In a warning tone, he said: “I urge drug-dealers to reflect on the grave harm they are inflicting on countless young people and adults from every walk of life. God will call you to account for your deeds.”

In what was the fourth day in his trip to Brazil, the Pope travelled to the Fazenda da Esperança (Farm of Hope) in Guaratinguetá, about 30 km from the town of Aparecida, a place where a drug and substance abuse centre was set up in 1979 at the initiative of Franciscan Fr Hans Stapel, which now has 32 facilities around Brazil and others around the world.

In the Fazenda’s small church, the Holy Father met Clarissan nuns, who are themselves involved in the centre. “Where society sees no more future or hope,” he told them, “Christians are called to announce the Resurrection with force. Right here, in this ‘Fazenda da Esperança’, where people, especially young people, try to overcome drug and chemical addictions, we bear witness to the Gospel of Christ in a consumer-oriented society that is far from God. How different is the Creator’s perspective in that of His work!”

Speaking in the centre’s stadium, he told residents that “God does not oppress individual liberty. All he wants is an open mind through which come the noblest aspirations but also the most unruly feelings and passions which shroud the Almighty’s message.”

“At some stage in people’s lives,” Pope Benedict said in his speech, “Jesus comes and gently knocks at the hearts of those properly disposed. Perhaps for you, he did this through a friend or a priest, or, who knows, perhaps he arranged a series of coincidences which enabled you to realise that you are loved by God.”

“Through the institution which has welcomed you, the Lord has given you this opportunity for physical and spiritual recovery, so vital for you and your families. In turn, society expects you to spread this precious gift of health among your friends and all the members of the community. You must be Ambassadors of hope!” he added.

The Pope finally turned his attention to “those many other institutions throughout the world work to rebuild and renew the lives of these brothers and sisters of ours who are present in our midst, and whom God loves with a preferential love. I am thinking of groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous as well as the sobriety associations working generously in many communities to help build up the lives of others.”

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