Pope says enough to the indiscriminate trafficking of weapons
During today’s general audience, Francis expressed his sorrow following the latest mass shooting in a Texas elementary school. The pontiff continued his catechesis on old age, urging seniors not to give in to disenchantment. “[I]f the elderly, who have seen it all [. . .], keep intact their passion for justice, then there is hope for love, and also for faith.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – At the end of today’s General Audience in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said that his heart was “broken by the mass shooting at the elementary school in Texas.”
Amid the applause of the faithful, the pontiff added: “I am praying for the children and the adults who were killed and for their families. It is time to say enough to the indiscriminate trafficking of arms; let us all commit ourselves so that such tragedies can never happen again.”
The pope’s words follow yesterday’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where an armed 18-year-old man killed 19 children and two adults, leaving the United States in a state of shock.
Speaking about the conflict in Ukraine that continues to sow deaths, Francis asked Polish pilgrims present at the audience to entrust themselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians, which was celebrated yesterday.
“In our prayers, let us especially entrust her with the desire for peace of Ukraine and the whole world,” he said. “May the Mother of God teach us solidarity with those who are burdened by the tragedy of war and may she achieve the reconciliation of nations.”
During the audience, the pope continued his catechesis on old age, centred today on “Qoheleth: The uncertain night about the meaning and things of life”.
For the Holy Father, Qoheleth is a book that leaves us baffled upon reading it for the first time because of its famous refrain – “everything is vanity", everything is "fog", "smoke", "emptiness" – which seems to question the meaning of existence, within Sacred Scripture.
“In reality,” Francis noted, “Qoheleth’s continuous vacillation between sense and non-sense is the ironic representation of an awareness of life that is detached from the passion for justice, of which God’s judgement is the guarantor.”
Faced with a reality that seems to lead everyone towards the common destiny of “ending up in nothingness”, the way of indifference might seem the only remedy to a painful disillusionment.
Old age makes the appointment with disenchantment almost inevitable, but resisting it is decisive. “[I]f the elderly, who have seen it all by that time, keep intact their passion for justice, then there is hope for love, and also for faith.”
Surviving this crisis then becomes crucial for today’s world as well, a crisis the pope defined as “healthy” since “a culture that presumes to measure everything and manipulate everything also ends up producing a collective demoralisation of meaning, a demoralisation of love, a demoralisation of goodness.”
The risk of becoming insensitive and amoral comes on top of the temptation to seek a truth that completely takes its leave from the passion for justice.
“[T]he knowledge that exempts us from morality seems at first to be a source of freedom, of energy, but soon turns into a paralysis of the soul.” With his irony, Qoheleth “unmasked this deadly temptation of an omnipotence of knowledge – a ‘delirium of omniscience’ – that generates an impotence of the will.”
The monks of the most ancient Christian tradition gave the name of “acedia” (Gr. negligence) to this surrender to the knowledge of the world, a loss of meaning that rejects all ethical responsibility and opens the door to the aggressiveness of the forces of evil. This is the power of reason gone mad, made cynical by an excess of ideology.
“In fact, with all our progress, with all our prosperity, we have really become a ‘society of weariness’,” Francis said. “We were supposed to have put an insuperable threshold for peace, and we see more and more ruthless wars against defenceless people.”
Although scientific progress is undoubtedly a good thing, for the pope, the wisdom of life is quite another matter. It is no accident that ours is a time of fake news, of “witchcraft with a certain culture [. . .] that leads you to a life of superstition” because an anaffective reason takes away energy from the knowledge of the truth.
According to the pontiff, Qoheleth’s ironic wisdom can teach that old age brings to light the deception of a truth of the mind, devoid of affections for justice.
“Take courage, all of us older people!” he noted. “Take courage and go forward! We have a very great mission in the world. But, please, we must not seek refuge in this somewhat non-concrete, unreal, rootless idealism – let us speak clearly – in the witchcraft of life.”