Rio Janeiro (AsiaNews) - On the feast day of Saints Anne and Joachim, Jesus's grandparents, Pope Francis issued a message in favour of the family, for a dialogue between young and old, something that is needed to build a more humane society. He did so inviting everyone to recite the Angelus.
Speaking from the balcony of the Archbishop's Residence in Rio, he said, "The Angelus prayer is a beautiful popular expression of the faith. It is a simple prayer, recited at three specific times during the day. It thus punctuates the rhythm of our daily activities: in the morning, at midday, and at sunset. But it is an important prayer. I encourage each of you to recite it, along with the Hail Mary. It reminds us of a luminous event, which transformed history: the Incarnation, the moment when the Son of God became man in Jesus of Nazareth."
Noting that today is the feast day of Saints Joachim and Anne, he added, "Today the Church celebrates the parents of the Virgin Mary, the grandparents of Jesus, Saints Joachim and Anne. In their home, Mary came into the world, accompanied by the extraordinary mystery of the Immaculate Conception. Mary grew up in the home of Joachim and Anne; she was surrounded by their love and faith: in their home, she learned to listen to the Lord and to follow his will. Saints Joachim and Anne were part of a long chain of people who had transmitted their love for God, expressed in the warmth and love of family life, down to Mary, who received the Son of God in her womb and who gave him to the world, to us. How precious is the family as the privileged place for transmitting the faith! Speaking about family life, I would like to say one thing: today, as Brazil and the Church around the world celebrate this feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, Grandparents Day is also being celebrated. How important grandparents are for family life, for passing on the human and religious heritage, which is so essential for each and every society! How important it is to have intergenerational exchanges and dialogue, especially within the context of the family. The Aparecida Document says, 'Children and the elderly build the future of peoples: children because they lead history forward, the elderly because they transmit the experience and wisdom of their lives' (No. 447). This relationship and this dialogue between generations is a treasure to be preserved and strengthened! In this World Youth Day, young people wish to acknowledge and honour their grandparents. They salute them with great affection and they thank them for the ongoing witness of their wisdom."
Yesterday, during a meeting with Argentinian pilgrims in Rio for World Youth Day (est. 60,000), he said, "I think our world civilization has gone beyond its limits; it has gone beyond its limits because it has made money into such a god that we are now faced with a philosophy and a practice which exclude the two ends of life that are most full of promise for peoples. They exclude the elderly, obviously. You could easily think there is a kind of hidden euthanasia, that is, we don't take care of the elderly; but there is also a cultural euthanasia, because we don't allow them to speak, we don't allow them to act. And there is the exclusion of the young. The percentage of our young people without work, without employment, is very high and we have a generation with no experience of the dignity gained through work. This civilization, in other words, has led us to exclude the two peaks that make up our future."
In addition, "Among the Argentine people, I ask the elderly, from my heart: do not cease to be the cultural storehouse of our people, a storehouse that hands on justice, hands on history, hands on values, hands on the memory of the people. And the rest of you, please, do not oppose the elderly! Let them speak, listen to them and go forward. But know this! Know that at this moment, you young people and you elderly people are condemned to the same destiny: exclusion. Don't allow yourselves to be excluded. It's obvious! That's why I think you must work. Faith in Jesus Christ is not a joke, it is something very serious."
This morning before the Angelus, the pope went to Quinta da Boa Vista Park, which houses the city's zoo and National Museum of Natural History, where he heard the confessions of three young women and two young men in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. This is not the first time that Francis celebrated the sacrament of reconciliation in public; he had the same during his visit to Prima Porta Parish in Rome last May.
One of the young women, Claudia from Italy, who received the sacrament, said she was "very excited, but also at peace;" that the Pope's simple words "help young people at the WYD understand what God's plan for each of them is."
Afterwards, the pope went to the Archbishop's Residence, where he met some young offenders, accompanied by their keepers. The care and the relationship with imprisoned youth has been an ongoing concern for Francis.
On his first Holy Thursday as pope, back in March, he celebrated the Mass of the Lord's Supper with inmates at the Casal del Marmo Juvenile Detention Centre in Italy.
Vatican Press Office director Fr Federico Lombardi said at a press conference that even now the pope every fortnight calls some young prisoners in Buenos Aires, with whom he has been friends for a long time.