Vatican City (AsiaNews) - A "pressing appeal" for the release of Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio, kidnapped in Syria two years ago, was launched by Pope Francis after the noon prayer today, in front of tens of thousands of pilgrims.
The Pope described Fr. Dall'Oglio, a Jesuit, as an "estimated religious". He had lived in Syria for many years, where he re-founded the monastic community of Mar Musa. Engaged in Christian-Muslim dialogue, he was often critical of the Assad regime and supportive of the Syrian Arab spring. Because of this he was expelled from Syria in 2012. On returning to an area under the control of the rebels, he was kidnapped July 29, 2013, it is believed by groups linked to al-Nusra Front and al Qaeda.
War and lawlessness mean that kidnapping - for ideological or economic reasons - is very common in Syria. Other victims include two Orthodox bishops: Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi (Orthodox Church of Antioch) and Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim (Syrian Orthodox Church) abducted in April 2013. In addition to these ten priests.
After the appeal for FR. Dall'Oglio, Francis also recalled them: "I can not forget - he said - the orthodox bishops kidnapped in Syria and all other persons who were seized in conflict zones. I hope for a renewed commitment of the competent local and international authorities, so that these brothers will soon be restored to freedom. With affection and participation in their suffering, we want to remember them in prayer. " And here he intoned a Hail Mary, followed by all present.
Jesus, gifted Bread of Life
Earlier, the pontiff had commented the Gospel of today's Mass, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes according to the Gospel of John (Jn. 6: 1-15). The Pope recalled that before "a great crowd", "Philip, one of the Twelve, makes a quick calculation: organizing a collection, a maximum of two hundred coins could be collected to buy bread, but that would not be enough to feed five thousand people."
"The disciples - he added - think in "market-place" terms, but Jesus replaces the logic of the market place with that of giving. And then Andrew, another of the Apostles, Simon Peter's brother, presents a man who gives all that he has five loaves and two fish; but not enough - says Andrew - for such a big crowd (cf. v. 9). But Jesus was waiting just for that. "
And after explaining that "the bread of God is Jesus himself," the Pope draws some conclusions: "Taking Communion with Him, we receive His life in us and we become children of the heavenly Father and brothers and sisters among us. Participating in the Eucharist means entering into the logic of Jesus, the logic of gratuitousness, sharing. And even though we are poor, we can all give something. "
"Jesus satisfies not only material hunger, but the most profound of hungers, the hunger for meaning in life, the hunger for God. In the face of suffering, loneliness, poverty and difficulties of so many people, what can we do? Complaining does not solve anything, but we can offer what little we have. We certainly have a few hours of time, some talent, some expertise ... Who among us does not have his or her "five loaves and two fish"? If we are willing to put them in the hands of the Lord, we will bring a little more love into the world a bit 'more love, peace, justice and joy. God is able to multiply our small gestures of solidarity and make us partakers of his Hift. "
"Our prayer - he concluded - is to support this shared commitment so that no-one is ever lacking ever the Bread of heaven that gives eternal life and the basic needs for a dignified life, and affirm the logic of sharing and love. May the Virgin Mary accompanies us with her maternal intercession. "
A pilgrimage to Krakow for WYD
After the Marian prayer, Francis publically became the first pilgrimage to officaly register for the World Youth Day (WYD) to be held next year in Poland in Krakow. For his registration - which opened today on the official website - the Pope was joined by a young boy and girl, who joined him at the window to help him register online with a Tablet (see Photo).
Francis explained that WYD 2016 "celebrated during the Year of Mercy, .... will, in a sense, be a jubilee of youth, called to reflect on the theme "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" (Mt 5,7). I invite the youth of the world to live this pilgrimage by going to Krakow, or by participating in this moment of grace in their own communities. "