08/16/2014, 00.00
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Disabled, men and women religious and lay people in the pope's "ministry of compassion"

In Kkottongnae, Francis met the sick, the elderly and the marginalised at the "Village of Flowers". He greeted, kissed and personally blessed all the residents of the facility, sending a very important signal to a society that still does not accept diversity. Later he met with men and women religious, reminding them of the importance of the vows they took, as well as with the laity. Helping the poor "is not enough. I entrust you the task of restoring dignity to those who have lost it for lack of work".

Seoul (AsiaNews) - During an afternoon centred on charity and respect for those who suffer, with a particular emphasis on the disabled and the elderly, Pope Francis used a simple but highly effective approach to show Korea - and the whole of East Asia - the respect and love the Catholic Church has for those who suffer.

The Pontiff used the "Village of Flowers" in Kkottongnae to send a message to the continent: the sick, unborn children, those suffering from malformations are his most beloved children. Kissing and blessing them one by one, playing and exchanging a word with each of them, Francis left a mark on Korean society.

After beatifying 124 Korean martyrs this morning before a crowd of a million people in central Seoul, the pope's afternoon was filled with meetings.

After a short rest at the Nunciature, Francis travelled by helicopter to Kkottongnae - about 120 kilometres from the capital - to meet first the sick, then communities of men and women religious and finally the laity, who are "always thriving , a flower that remains," a reference to this morning's beatification since among the 124 newly beatified, only one was priest, James Zhou from China.

The pope told the 150 or so lay people present at the meeting that "the fruitfulness of faith is expressed in concrete solidarity with our brothers and sisters, without any attention to their culture or social status."

At the same way, he emphasised that "This activity should not be limited to charitable assistance, but must also extend to a practical concern for human growth. To assist the poor is good and necessary, but it is not enough. I encourage you to multiply your efforts in the area of human promotion, so that every man and every woman can know the joy, which comes from the dignity of earning their daily bread and supporting their family.

This activity, he added off the cuff, "is currently threatened by a culture of money that leaves many people without work. I can say we shall feed you, but that is not enough. Those who are out of work must feel in their heart the dignity of earning their daily bread. This job is for you."

Francis went on to reiterate the Church's basic commitment to the core of society, the family. "At a time of great crisis for family life, our Christian communities are called to support married couples and families in fulfilling their proper mission in the life of the Church and society. The family remains the basic unit of society and the first school in which children learn the human, spiritual and moral values, which enable them to be a beacon of goodness, integrity and justice in our communities."

Shortly before, the Pope also met with Korea's communities of men and women religious. He reminded them of the basic values ​​of religious life: poverty, chastity and community life, which he described as "very, very important" at the start of his address.

For Francis, the hypocrisy of consecrated men and women who have made vows of poverty but live like the rich "hurts the souls of the faithful and harms the Church."

"Chastity," he added, "expresses your single-minded dedication to the love of God who is 'the strength of our hearts'. We all know what a personal and demanding commitment this entails. Temptations in this area call for humble trust in God, vigilance and perseverance as well as openness of the wise brother and sister that the Lord places on our path". (VFP)

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