Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The main Christian attitudes during Advent are those of conversion and joy, said Pope Francis addressing pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square for the Angelus. Earlier in the morning he had presided over the liturgy in St. John Lateran, where he opened the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Rome, to coincide with the opening of the Holy Door in the different cathedrals of the world.
Conversion is "the synthesis of the message of John the Baptist", mentioned in the Gospel of today's liturgy. It means that "we need to change direction - said Francis - and take the path of justice, solidarity, sobriety: these are the essential values of a fully human and genuinely Christian life."
The Pope referred to the Gospel, in which the tax collectors and soldiers ask John the Baptist, "What should we do" to convert. Speaking of the tax collectors, to whom John said they must demand no more "than necessary," Francis added spontaneously: "What does this mean? Obviously that they must accept bribes!".
However, he said, "no group of people is excluded from the path of conversion for salvation, not even the tax collectors considered sinners by definition. God does not exclude anyone a chance to save themselves. He is eager to show mercy to all and to welcome each in tender embrace of reconciliation and forgiveness ".
The invitation to joy is present twice in today's liturgy (Zephaniah 3:14 and Philippians 4.4). "Today – he said - it takes courage to speak of joy, but above all faith! The world is beset by many problems, the future weighed down by uncertainties and fears. Yet the Christian is a joyful person, and his joy is not something superficial and ephemeral, but deep and stable, because it is a gift from God that fills life. Our joy comes from knowing that "the Lord is near" (Phil 4,5) ". And again moving away from his scripted speech he reiterated: "Whoever converts and draws close to the Lord feels joy”.
After the Marian prayer, Francis recalled the climate conference that has just concluded in Paris. He said the implementation of the decisions requires "commitment and generosity" and expressed the hope that there is "attention to the poorest people and a solidarity that will become more and more active."
Among other important appointments he highlighted the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization, to be held in Nairobi on December 15. "I speak - he said - to the countries that will participate, so that their decisions take into account the needs of the poor and the most vulnerable, as well as the legitimate aspirations of the least developed countries and the common good of the entire human family" .
The Pope also greeted the inmates of Padua prison, where a ceremony opening their "Door of Mercy", was held today. It is the Pope’s wish that during this Holy Year, these "doors" be opened "in places of discomfort and alienation".
Finally Francis also had greetings for representatives of the Focolare Movement present in the square along with some members of Muslim communities. With enthusiasm, he said: "Move forward, move forward with courage on your path of dialogue and fraternity. Because we are all children of God. "