10/29/2023, 17.17
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At the Angelus, Pope calls for humanitarian aid, hostage release, and a ceasefire in Gaza

More than 5,000 people were present at the Mass that concluded the Synod on synodality. In his homily, Francis said: “we have experienced the loving presence of the Lord,” and “with farsightedness we look to the horizon opening up before us.” During the Angelus, he thanked all those who joined the Day of Fasting, Prayer and Penance last Friday: "Let us not stop," he insisted. As Fr Ibrahim Faltas said, “War is always a defeat.”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In his Angelus address, Pope Francis thanked all those who “in so many places and in various ways” joined last Friday’s Day of Fasting, Prayer and Penance to implore peace in the world. Now “Let us not stop,” the pontiff added. “Let us continue to pray for Ukraine, as well as for the serious situation in Palestine and Israel, and for other regions at war.”

Speaking about the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, Francis said: “Particularly, in Gaza, may space be opened to guarantee humanitarian aid, and may the hostages be released right away. Let no one abandon the possibility that the weapons might be silenced – let there be a ceasefire.”

Turning to what the Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land said on Italian TV, the pope noted: "We too with Father Ibrahim [Faltas] say ceasefire! Stop, brothers and sisters, war is always a defeat!" This was met with a long applause from the faithful gathered in St Peter's Square.

Earlier, in St Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis led the Mass that concluded the first stage in the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops; the second session will be held in October 2024.

Speaking to some 5,000 worshippers in the basilica, the pontiff referred to the assembly as a "conversation of the Spirit” in which “we have experienced the loving presence of the Lord and discovered the beauty of fraternity.”

“We have listened to one another and above all, in the rich variety of our backgrounds and concerns, we have listened to the Holy Spirit,” he explained, noting that the results of the work done so far will not be visible right away but will become clear on the long run.

“[W]ith farsightedness we look to the horizon opening up before us. The Lord will guide us and help us to be a more synodal and missionary Church, a Church that adores God and serves the women and men of our time, going forth to bring to everyone the consoling joy of the Gospel.”

Francis also thanked the participants in the 2023 session of the synod “for the journey we have made together, for your listening and your dialogue,” hopeful that we may “grow in our worship of God and in our service to our neighbour.

In his commentary on the Gospel of the day (Mt 22:34-40), the Holy Father focused on two verbs, adoring and serving. At “the conclusion of this stage of our journey, it is important to look at the ‘principle and foundation’ from which everything begins ever anew: by loving.” It is precisely through these two verbs, which are "movements of the heart", that love is possible.

“Not our strategies, our human calculations, the ways of the world”. In fact, “God and neighbour” are at “the heart of everything,” the pope said, referring to what Jesus told the Pharisee who asked him about the great commandment.

Speaking about the first verb, to adore, Francis said: “The amazement of adoration, the wonder of worship, is something essential in the life of the Church, especially in our own day in which we have abandoned the practice of adoration. To adore God means to acknowledge in faith that he alone is Lord and that our individual lives, the Church’s pilgrim way and the ultimate outcome of history all depend on the tenderness of his love.”

It is important, he added, to fight against idolatry and be vigilant so that "it does not happen to us that we put ourselves at the centre instead of Him."

With respect to the second verb, to serve, the Holy Father noted that “There is no love of God without care and concern for our neighbour; otherwise, we risk becoming pharisaic.” Instead, “let us remember that “to adore God and to love our brothers and sisters with his love, that is the great and perennial reform.”

As for the "victims of the atrocities of war,” Francis noted that, “It is a grave sin to exploit the vulnerable, a grave sin that corrodes fraternity and devastates society. As disciples of Jesus, we desire to bring to the world a different type of leaven, that of the Gospel.”

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