03/30/2022, 12.55
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Pope: 'Fraternity is not just a museum piece to be admired'

Pope meets with Ukrainian children who are victims of "this savage cruelty that is war," at the general audience. Continuing his catechesis, Francis spoke of Simeon and Anna as examples of the expectation of God's visit even in the time of old age. Entrusted to the prayers of the faithful the trip to Malta.   

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis returned to ask for prayers for an end to the war in Ukraine  at this morning's general audience in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall. After the catechesis, the Pope addressed "a particularly affectionate greeting" to the Ukrainian children, hosted by the "Aiutiamoli a vivere" Foundation, the "Puer" Association and the Embassy of Ukraine to the Holy See.

During the greeting thoughts turned to "this monstrosity of war. We renew our prayers so that this savage cruelty that is war may be stopped". After the audience he wanted to personally shake hands with some of the Ukrainian children present, recognizable by their yellow and blue flags.

In the Paul VI Hall, along with the many groups from around the world, sat representatives of the Inuit, Métis and First Nations communities, indigenous Canadian peoples who have come to the Vatican for a series of private meetings with the pontiff that will conclude with an audience reserved for them on April 1. These meetings fall within the framework of the journey of healing and reconciliation already begun in Canada, for the victims of the so-called "residential schools" established by the Canadian government between the end of the 1800s and the last decades of the 1900s, in which many children were victims of psychological and physical violence.

This morning's catechesis, continuing the cycle on old age offered each Wednesday, reflected on the theme, "Fidelity to God's visitation for the generation to come" (Reading: Lk 2:25-30). Pope Francis focused on the figures of the elderly Simeon and Anna: "Their reason for living, before taking leave of this world, is the expectation of God's visitation - he said -. Both recognize the presence of the Lord in the child Jesus, who fills their long wait with consolation and reassures their departure from life." From them, every Christian is called to learn that "the fidelity of waiting sharpens the senses".

To do this, we need to ask for help from the Holy Spirit: "The Spirit sharpens the senses of the soul, despite the limitations and wounds of the senses of the body - said the Holy Father -. An old age that has exercised itself in waiting for God's visitation will not lose its passage, but will also be more ready to grasp it". In fact, it is fundamental to be able to grasp God's passage in everyday life, through spiritual senses that are still "alive" and not asleep.

Often, however, "we do not realize that we are anesthetized, that we are not able to sense the presence of God, the presence of evil" and this is how attention to the most fragile is diminished. "Despite the fact that the rhetoric of inclusion has become a ritual formula of every politically correct discourse, a culture of social tenderness is struggling to grow. The spirit of human fraternity - which I felt it necessary to strongly revive - is like a discarded dress, to be admired, yes, but...in a museum," the Pope explained.

The example to be followed then comes from Simeon and Anna who "recognize in a child, whom they did not beget and whom they see for the first time, the sure sign of God's visitation. They accept not to be protagonists, but only witnesses". The key - according to the Pope - is all in the exchange between young and old, which gives life to a mature society, where "the spiritual sensitivity of the elderly is able to break down competition and conflict between generations in a credible and definitive way."

At the end of the audience, Pope Francis also addressed a greeting to the Maltese, ahead of his visit to the Mediterranean island scheduled for Saturday and Sunday: "This apostolic journey will be an opportunity to return to the sources of the Gospel, to go and get to know a country with a vibrant and millennial history, to meet the inhabitants of a country at the center of the European continent and south of the Mediterranean, committed to welcoming brothers and sisters seeking refuge. I greet all of you Maltese and I ask each of you to accompany me with your prayers".

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