At his first Mass in Dhaka, Pope Francis thanked the Catholics, who also came from far, on a trip of more than two days. The celebration in the place where Mujibur Rahman proclaimed the birth of Bangladesh.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) - More than 90,000 faithful from all over the country took part in the 10 am (local time) Mass that Pope Francis celebrated at Dhaka's Suhrawardy Udyan Park, during which he ordained 16 new priests.
Speaking in unscripted remarks before the crowd, the Pope thanked all of them for their "generosity" because they came in such great numbers "to this great celebration of God" coming "from afar, on a journey of more than two days".
"Thank you so much for your generosity," he repeated, "thank you so much for your fidelity. Keep this up, with the spirit of the Beatitudes. " He then exhorted them to pray for the priests: "The people of God sustain priests with prayer. It is your responsibility to support priests. Some of you may wonder, 'Father, how are we going to support a priest?' Trust your generosity. The generous heart you have will tell you how to support your priests. But the priest's first support is prayer. The people of God, that is, all, all of us, support your priest with prayer. Never tire of praying for your priests. I know you will. Thank you very much!". The enthusiasm of the faithful was palpable: applause, singing, dancing, chanting in Bengali English and even in Italian (see video)!
Although Pope Francis is the third pope to visit Bangladesh (Paul VI in 1970, John Paul in 1986), the small community of the country (0.2% of the population) has little opportunity to gather in such a clear way, under the attention of the rest of the population.
Thanking Francis for his visit, Card. Patrick D'Rozario of Dhaka said that all that crowd "was attracted" by the love expressed by Pope Francis towards them.
He also stressed the value of the place where Catholics celebrated Mass for the first time. The park is in fact the place where Father of Homeland, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, proclaimed Bangladesh's independence as a home where religions and ethnicities could live together. The celebration in this space - said the cardinal - is symbolic for "the special role of the Church in this nation".
Prior to the ordination of the 16 young men, Francis recalled the signs of priestly ordination, with a homily drawn from the ritual, in which he explained that they are called "so as to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd, by whose ministry his body, that is, the Church, is built and grows into the people of God, a holy temple."
First of all, there is the gift of teaching: "Impart to everyone the word of God which you have received with joy. Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practice what you teach.In this way, let what you teach be nourishment for the people of God. Let the holiness of your lives be a delightful fragrance to Christ’s faithful, so that by word and example you may build up the house which is God’s Church. "
Then the ministry of sanctification of the faithful through the sacraments: "For by your ministry the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be made perfect, being united to the sacrifice of Christ, which will be offered through your hands in an unbloody way on the altar, in union with the faithful, in the celebration of the sacraments. Understand, therefore, what you do and imitate what you celebrate. As celebrants of the mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection, strive to put to death whatever in your members is sinful and to walk in newness of life."
Finally, the pastoral ministry: "exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd, while united with the Bishop and subject to him, strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost."
Later, at the nunciature, Francis will have a private meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. In the afternoon he will meet the Bangladesh bishops and then representatives of the various religions of the country.