Pope in Molise: Witness to charity, high road of evangelization
On a one day pastoral visit to one of the poorest regions in Italy, Pope Francis urges faithful to be like Mary, the "handmaid of the Lord" and in the service of their "brothers who are in need". God frees us from sadness and selfishness. At the University of Campobasso, the call for a "jobs pact" that safeguards the dignity of the unemployed. "Safeguarding" the earth without "exploiting it". We need to "waste time with our children". "Maybe it's time to ask whether it is true freedom to work on Sundays."

Campobasso (AsiaNews) - "The witness to charity" in our "ordinary reality, in the family, church, at work, among neighbors ...", is "the high way of evangelization": this is the central theme of homily that Pope Francis addressed to the tens of thousands of faithful in Molise, gathered in the former Romagnoli stadium this morning. The Eucharistic celebration is one of the highlights of his pastoral visit to one of the smallest and poorest Italian regions.

Previously the Pope met with representatives of the world of work (agriculture and industry) in the Aula Magna of the University of Campobasso, focusing attention on the dignity of unemployed and asking whether the pace of work will destroy Sunday rest and especially free time for family and community relations.

During the Mass the Pope Francis recalled the devotion of Molise to the "Madonna della Libera", [Our Lady of the Free- ed] and has often reiterated that "the Church is the icon of the Virgin Mary, the"handmaid of the Lord "(Luke 1:38, cf 1.48 ). "

"Immediately after the Angel's announcement and having conceived Jesus - he added - Mary rushed to help her elderly cousin Elizabeth. And in doing so shows that the preferred way to serve God is to serve our brothers and sisters who are in need".

"The witness to charity is the high road of evangelization ... There is so much in need of this commitment, faced with situations of material and spiritual precariousness, especially faced with unemployment, a plague that requires all effort and a lot of courage from all of us.  The challenge of job creation particularly regards those in positions of responsibility, in institutions, in  the world of business and finance.  We must place the dignity of the human person at the center of every prospect and every action. All other interests, even if legitimate, are secondary. "

Serving the Lord, the Church "experiences its liberation and lives in this freedom that He gives." "This - he said - is the freedom which, by the grace of God, we experience within the Christian community, when we put ourselves at the service of each other. The Lord frees us from ambition and rivalry, which undermines unity and communion. He frees us from distrust, sadness, fear, internal emptiness, isolation, from regret, from complaints. "

As if to confirm the closeness of the Church to "situations of material and spiritual precariousness", earlier this morning, in gathering at the local University, the Pope had heard the stories of a young student and farmer and a working woman, the mother of a toddler who is expecting her second child.

He praised the young farmers decision "to do a degree course in agriculture and to work the land 'vocation', in order to keep the farmer on the land to make a dialogue between man and his land, does flourish, causes it to become fruitful for all of us. "

"I fully agree - he added - with what has been said about 'safeguarding' the earth, to bear fruit without 'exploitation'. This is one of the greatest challenges of our time: conversion to a development that respects Creation"

Referring to the testimony of the working mother, the Pope said: "Hers is a plea for work and at the same time for the family. Thank you for this testimony! In fact, it is a case of trying to reconcile work with family life".

"I hear confessions; not so much now as I did in the other dioceses ... When a young mom or a dad comes to me, I ask: Do you play with your kids? '. We are losing this knowledge, this wisdom of how to play with our kids. The economic situation compels us to this, to lose this. Please spend time with your children! On Sunday: she referred to Sunday as the family day, to spend time together".

"This - he continued - is 'critical', a point that allows us to discern, to assess the quality of the human economic system in which we find ourselves. And this also raises the issue of working Sundays, which affects not only believers, but it affects everyone, as an ethical choice. We are losing this free space".

And moving from his scripted speech, the Pope added: "I would like to return to a word... dignity. Not having work not only means not having the necessities of life: no. We can eat everyday if we go to Caritas. The problem is not being able to bring the bread home: this is serious, and this robs people of dignity! For this we have to work and defend that dignity that work gives us".

At the end of the Mass, the Pope's visit continues with an adoration of the Eucharist in the Cathedral, followed by a greeting to a group of patients. Then the Pope will visit the "House of Angels" in Campobasso where he will lunch with the poor assisted by Caritas.