Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Today mankind is in crisis, this is why the current crisis is a profound one". This is also why we must not isolate ourselves "in the parish, among friends, in our movement, with those who think like us ...". "The Church must go out to the suburbs of existence itself." These are just two of the most important emergencies that Pope Francis suggested to the New Movements, associations, communities that travelled to Rome for the May 18 vigil and the Mass of Pentecost on May 19. The Pope responded extemporaneously to four questions that were addressed to him, in which he recalled having received the faith in his family, from his grandmother, pointed out that the Church "is not an NGO," but the bearer of Jesus Christ; that to awaken the materialistic world to the faith personal witness is necessary, that in our present world falling stack markets are considered "a tragedy", while the fall (and death) of workers, or starvation, or difficulties of the poor cause little interest.
The vigil was
held in St. Peter's Square packed with at least 200 thousand people, with a
crowd that overflowed along Via della Conciliazione. Francis
emerged at 17.30 for a long tour through the crowds on his jeep, greeting and
kissing babies, surrounded by a forest of banners, caps, scarves, placards,
cries of "Fran-cis! Fran-cis."
the Pope corrected them ("fraternally, though!"): "From now on
you have to say: Jesus, Jesus Jesus!" and the crowd obeyed.
The prayer vigil was attended by at least 150 movements, associations and new communities: including Communion and Liberation, the Focolare Movement, the Neocatechumenal Way, Sant'Egidio, Renewal in the Spirit and many groups from Europe, America, Asia and Africa . The appointment was fixed as part of the celebrations for the Year of Faith, with the title "I believe! Increase our faith." Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, introducing the time, said that the impetus for this oceanic gathering "is to find the most appropriate and consistent way to live and witness to the Gospel in today's world."
readings taken from St Paul's Letter to the Romans and the treatise of St.
Irenaeus, there were two testimonies. John
Waters, an Irish journalist, spoke of his leaving the faith, in search of a freedom
that "makes us feel all-powerful and deeply powerless," typical man
of today who "seeks to dominate everything and that's why he feels
isolated and alone" . He
then recalled his descent ("to his knees") into alcoholism, from
which he was saved thanks to some friends who helped him rediscover the faith
of his childhood. Now,
he concluded "I am not only John, but one with the One who created me and
I could not be free in any other way."
The other testimony was that of Paul Bhatti, former minister for minorities in Pakistan, who thanked Pope Francis for being able to "share the pain and hopes of the Christians of Pakistan." He recalled the mission of his brother Shahbaz, who was killed by Islamic extremists March 2, 2011, his commitment to the poor, the marginalized, the weak who "are the body of the persecuted Christ." At the same time, his brother never stopped dreaming of "a Pakistan free and open to all communities and minorities", in dialogue with Muslims, who "bear witness to the love of Jesus."
representatives from the Movements then addressed their questions to Pope Francis.
pontiff, who had previously read the questions, gave an unscripted response,
apologizing at the end that he was "too long". The dialogue lasted for at least
To the first question, "how did you achieve a certainty of faith in your life?" the Pope responded by recalling the religious education he received from his grandmother, from whom "I first heard the Christian proclamation ... All mothers and grandmothers transmit the faith. God puts people alongside us who help us in the faith. "
We say that we must seek God, go to Him to ask for forgiveness ... but when we go, He is waiting for us, He is the first one there...This creates wonder in the heart of those who do not believe, and this is how faith grows! It is important to study. But that alone is not enough! The important thing is our encounter with Jesus. Fragility's biggest enemy curiously enough, is fear. But do not be afraid! Faith grows with the Lord, out of the very hands of the Lord. And that makes us grow and makes us stronger". And referring again to the importance of mothers in the transmission of faith Francis concludes: "The one thing that makes me stronger every day is to pray the Rosary to Our Lady. I feel great strength because I go to her and I feel strong".
Una donna insegnante parla del materialismo banale in cui sono immersi i suoi studenti e gli altri insegnanti. E domanda: "Qual è la cosa più importante per attuare il compito a cui siamo chiamati? Come possiamo comunicare in modo efficace la fede nel mondo di oggi?".
teacher speaks of trivial materialism in which her students and other teachers are
she asks: "What is the most important thing that we must do to carry out
the task to which we are called and how can we effectively communicate the
faith in the world today?".
"The most important thing - said the pope - is Jesus. Organization, things to do ... alone are not enough. Jesus is the most important thing .... Evangelization doesn't take place around a table , with strategies, they are secondary. Evangelization takes place with the testimony ... John Paul II and Benedict XVI have said that today's man needs witnesses, more than masters. "
It is important
that "we are guided by Jesus," "our leader" and that we
"allow God to gaze at us". The Holy Father revealed how at times, late in the
evening he goes to the chapel and nods off from exhaustion in front of the
He understands ... And I let Him hold me in His gaze look and that gives me
To the third question, asked by an employee, "How can we live as a poor Church for the poor? What contribution we can give to address the serious crisis of today?" Francis replied that the "main contribution" we can give is "living the Gospel. The Church is not a political movement, nor a well-organized structure. We are not an NGO. When the Church becomes an NGO it loses salt and becomes tasteless, an empty organization".
And after having warned against the temptations presented by efficiency, he added: "[In today's world] man is in crisis, for this is a deep crisis. Why we cannot be concerned only with ourselves ... We must not isolate in ourselves in our parishes, with friends, in our movements, with those who think like us ... When the Church becomes closed, it gets sick. A room closed for a year .. when you open it smells of damp...the Church must go out of itself to the existential outskirts. Jesus said, 'Go into all the world'. In doing so the Church runs the risk of accidents a long the way as some would point out. But I say, I prefer a thousand times a Church damaged by an accident, than a sick Church closed in on itself. We often lock ourselves up in antiquated structures out of fear, which make us slaves. "
He pointed out that the dominant culture is that "of contrast and of waste", which eliminates the elderly with their wisdom, and children because they are useless. Christians must go against this culture: "We need to go out and meet everyone, people who do not think like us, of other faiths, non-believers ... They share one thing with us, they are made in the image of God."
He then returned again to the "human crisis": "A homeless man who dies of cold, that doesn't make the news ... Children who die of hunger, do not make the news." "If we go out and we meet the poor, we can touch the flesh of Christ. A poor Church for the poor begins with going out, encountering the flesh of Christ, and [so] we begin to understand what the poverty of the Lord is."
The last question concerns "proclaiming the faith," persecution and how to "help our persecuted brothers and sisters", "how to help them change their political and social context".
"To proclaim the Gospel - says the Pope - it takes courage and patience." And playing on the connection between the word "patience" and "suffering", he defines the persecuted as "the Church in patience." Remembering that "there are more martyrs today than in the early centuries of the Church, our brothers and sisters who are suffering ... They witness the faith until martyrdom. But martyrdom is never a defeat. It is the highest degree of witness."
noted that often conflicts in which Christians are victims "have no
religious origin - they have social or political causes that then involve
religious communities - but the Christian must always respond to evil with
And he asked all: "Let us try to make them feel that we are deeply united to their situation ... Do you pray for these brothers and sisters every day?".
The commitment for them, then added, "should prompt us to promote religious freedom for all. Every man must be free to [profess] his religion, because every man and woman are God's children."
At the end of the vigil, and after the blessing, Francis greeted everyone with a "Good evening." And the crowd yelled, "Je-sus! Je-sus! Je-sus ! ".