Pope expresses solidarity with families of victims in Egypt and Manchester
At Regina Caeli Pope Francis recalls Minya's martyrs "killed after they refused to deny their Christian faith." A prayer for the "many young broken lives" in the attack in Manchester. The Ascension "reveals to us why the Church exists: it exists to proclaim the Gospel! And the joy of the Church is to proclaim the Gospel ". The World Day of Social Communications.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis expressed "closeness to my dear Brother Pope Tawadros and the entire Egyptian nation, which two days ago suffered another act of fierce violence." Yesterday in Genoa, the pontiff had already recalled and prayed for the victims of the attack at Minya, where - according to the Orthodox Coptic Patriarch - 35 people were killed. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State.
"The victims - continued the Pope after the Regina Caeli prayer in St. Peter's Square - include children, they were faithful on their way to a sanctuary to pray and they were killed after they refused to deny their Christian faith . May the Lord welcome into his peace these brave witnesses, these martyrs and convert the hearts of terrorists. " The Pope then added some words regarding the attack at the Manchester Arena, where a young Libyan-born British man blew himself up at the end of a concert where many young people were present. "Let us pray," said the Pope, "also for the victims of the horrific attack on Manchester last Monday, where so many young lives were cruelly broken. I am close to the families and to those who mourn for those lost."
Earlier, the pontiff focused on the sense of the Feast of Ascension, which in Italy and other countries is celebrated on the seventh Sunday of Easter.
"The gospel page (cf. Mt 28: 16-20), - he said - that which concludes the Gospel of Matthew, presents us with the moment of the definitive departure of the Risen Lord from his disciples. The scene is set in Galilee, the place where Jesus had called them to follow him and where the first nucleus of his new community forms. Now those disciples have gone through the "fire" of passion and resurrection. At the sight of the risen Lord, they bow to him, some are still doubtful. To this frightened community, Jesus leaves the immense task of evangelizing the world. And he concretizes this commission with the order to teach and baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost (cf. v. 19). "
"The ascension of Jesus to heaven - he continued - is therefore the end of the mission the Son has received from the Father and the beginning of the continuation of this mission by the Church. From this moment, in fact, the presence of Christ in the world is mediated by his disciples, by those who believe in him and proclaim him. This mission will last until the end of history and will enjoy the daily assistance of the Risen Lord, who assures us: "I am with you every day until the end of the world" (v. 20). His presence brings strength in persecutions, comfort in tribulations, support in the difficult situations that the mission and proclamation of the Gospel can bring. The Ascension reminds us of this assistance of Jesus and of His Spirit that gives confidence and certainty to our Christian witness in the world. He reveals to us why the Church exists: it exists to proclaim the Gospel! And also the joy of the Church is to proclaim the Gospel. We are all baptized by the Church. Today we are invited to understand better that God has given us great dignity and responsibility to announce it to the world, to make it accessible to humanity. This is our dignity, this is the greatest honor for each of us baptized! "
"On Ascension Sunday - he concluded - as we turn our gaze to heaven, where Christ ascended and sits on the right hand of the Father, we strengthen our footsteps on earth to continue our journey, our mission of witnessing and to living the Gospel in every environment with enthusiasm and courage. However, we are well aware that this does not depend primarily on our strengths, organizational skills and human resources. Only with the light and strength of the Holy Spirit can we effectively fulfill our mission of making Christ's love and tenderness known to others. We ask the Virgin Mary to help us contemplate the heavenly goods that the Lord promises us, and becomes more and more credible witnesses of his Resurrection, of True Life. "
Before the final greetings, the Pope recalled that today is World Day of Social Communications, which this year has theme as "Do not fear because I am with you" (Is 43.5). "Means of communication - said the Pope - offer the opportunity to share and disseminate news instantly in a capillary way: this news can be beautiful or bad, true or false, we pray for communication in all its forms, that it be really constructive, serving the truth by refusing prejudices, and spreading hope and trust in our time."