Vatican City (AsiaNews) – During today’s Regina Coeli address, Pope Francis said that Óscar Romero, who was beatified yesterday in San Salvador, was “killed in odium fide while he was celebrating the Eucharist.” Yesterday, he added, an Italian nun, Sister Irene Stefani of the Missionaries of Consolation, was also beatified in Kenya where she “served the Kenyan people with joy, mercy and tender compassion”
In a letter for beatification of the Salvadorian bishop murdered on 24 March 1980, the Holy Father noted that “This zealous pastor, following the example of Jesus, chose to be among his people, especially the poor and the oppressed, even when it cost him his life.”
“In times of difficult coexistence, Archbishop Romero knew how to lead, defend and protect his flock, remaining faithful to the Gospel and in communion with the whole Church. His ministry was distinguished by a particular attention to the most poor and marginalized. And in the moment of his death, while he celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of love and reconciliation, he received the grace to identify himself fully with He who gave his life for his sheep.
Hence, let us “give thanks to God because he granted the martyred Bishop, the ability to see and hear the suffering of his people, and molded his heart so that, in His name, he could direct them and illuminate them, even making of his work a full exercise of Christian charity.”
“The voice of the newly Blessed continues to resonate today to remind us that the Church, a convocation of brothers surrounding their Lord, is the family of God, in which there should be no division.
“Faith in Jesus Christ, when understood well and its final consequences assumed, generates communities of that are builders of peace and solidarity. This is what the Church in El Salvador is called to today, in America and in the whole world: to be rich in mercy and to convert into the leaven of reconciliation for society.”
Turning to more recent tragedies, the pontiff told the 50,000 people present in St Peter’s Square for the Marian prayer about his “great concern” for “the many refugees in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.” In view of this, "I express my appreciation for the efforts made by those countries that have expressed willingness to welcome these people who are facing great suffering and danger. I encourage the international community to provide them with the necessary humanitarian assistance.”
Earlier, Francis had spoken about the Pentecost, “the ‘baptism’ of the Church,” when it started “its journey in history, driven by the strength of the Holy Spirit.” For the pope, “The universal Church is born, one and Catholic, with a precise, but open identity, that embraces the whole world, without exception.
“The Holy Spirit poured out at Pentecost in the hearts of the disciples is the beginning of a new season: the season of the testimony and fraternity. It is a season that comes from above, from God, like flames of fire that came to rest on the head of each disciple. It was the flame of love burning away all bitterness; it was the language of the Gospel that crosses the boundaries put into place by men and touches the hearts of everyone, without distinction of language, race or nationality.
“On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is poured out continuously, even today, on the Church and on all of us because we go out of our mediocrity and our closing off of ourselves and communicate to the world the merciful love of the Lord. This is our mission! We too are given the gift of the 'language' of the Gospel and the 'fire' of the Holy Spirit, in order for us to proclaim the risen Jesus, alive and present in our midst, and warm the hearts of people, bringing them closer to Him, the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
Finally, “Today, a hundred years ago,” the pope said, Italy entered the First World War, a “useless slaughter”. Thus, “let us pray and ask for the gift of peace.”