Vatican City (AsiaNews) – "My thoughts at this time go to the people of the city of Tianjin, in northern China, where some explosions in the industrial section have caused many deaths and injuries and extensive damage," said Pope Francis after he recited the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square.
Two days ago, two huge explosions in a warehouse containing chemicals killed more than 50 people and injured an additional 700, destroying an entire section of the city. Local authorities and residents fear exposure to toxic gases from some 700 tonnes of highly poisonous sodium cyanide.
"I assure you,” the pope said, “that my prayers go to those who lost their life and to all those who are suffering from this calamity. May the Lord give them comfort and give support to those engaged in alleviating their suffering."
Earlier, the pope had focused on the meaning of today's feast, the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into heaven. Citing the Gospel of the Mass (Luke 1: 39-56), Francis said, "The Gospel shows us . . . the truest reason for Mary greatness and beatitude: faith. . . . Faith is the heart of Mary’s entire story. She knows and says that the violence of bullies, the pride of the rich, and the arrogance of the proud weighs on history. Yet, Mary believes and proclaims that God does not abandon his humble and poor children, but rescues them with mercy and kindness, overthrowing the mighty from their thrones, and scattering the proud in the plots of their hearts. This is our Mother’s faith; this is Mary's faith."
"If the Lord's mercy is the engine of history, then rightly he ‘would not allow her
to see the corruption of the tomb' (Preface of the solemnity). [. . .] All this,” the pontiff noted, “is not just about Mary. The 'big things' the Almighty did in her profoundly touch us, speak to us of our journey through life, and remind us about the goal that awaits us: the Father's house. Our life, seen in the light of Mary assumed into Heaven, is not about aimlessly wandering, but is a pilgrimage that, despite all its uncertainties and sufferings, has a safe destination: the house of our Father, who is waiting for us with love. It is nice to think that up there we have a Father who is waiting for us with love."
"In the meantime,” said the pope in concluding, “as life goes on, God radiates as ‘a sign of sure hope and comfort to your pilgrim people’ (ibid). That sign has a face and a name: the radiant face of the Mother of the Lord, the blessed name of Mary, full of grace, blessed because she believed in the word of the Lord. The great believer. As members of the Church, we are destined to share the glory of our Mother because, thanks to God, we too believe in the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, and, through the Baptism, we are inserted into this mystery of salvation. Today, we all pray to her together, because, as our journey on this earth unwinds, she may turn towards us her merciful eyes, clearing the way, showing us the goal, and after this exile show us Jesus, the blessed fruit of her breast. Let us say together: O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!"
When it was time to bid goodbye to the pilgrims and Romans, Pope Francis invited everyone to visit the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, and see the icon of the Salus Populi Romani, to which he is especially devoted. Usually, before and after every apostolic visit, the Holy Father visits the site and prays before the image of Our Lady in the basilica.