Pope: Parishes, schools and sports environments have a duty to protect children
"The peripheries are preferred by Jesus," who "continues to manifest himself in the geographical and existential peripheries" and that even today the Church "knows that it is called to announce the good news starting from the peripheries." New cycle of catechesis dedicated to St. Joseph, who "reminds the Church to fix its gaze on what the world deliberately ignores."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "It is the overriding duty of all those who have any educational responsibility in the family, in the parish, in schools, in recreational and sporting places, to protect and respect the adolescents and young people entrusted to their care, because it is precisely in these places that most abuse occurs," noted Pope Francis today, welcoming the Italian Bishops' Conference decision to observe the first National Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Abuse.
Speaking about it at the end of the general audience, Francis called the Day "an occasion for reflection, awareness and prayer to support paths of human and spiritual recovery of victims."
Earlier in his address for the general audience, Francis said that "the peripheries are preferred by Jesus," who "continues to manifest himself in the geographical and existential peripheries" and that even today the Church "knows that it is called to announce the good news starting from the peripheries," as were Bethlehem and Nazareth, where Jesus chose to be born and where Joseph lived. To him, the "carpenter from Nazareth who trusts God's plan for his young betrothed and for himself" and who "reminds the Church to fix its gaze on what the world deliberately ignores," Pope Francis is dedicating, starting today, a series of catecheses for the general audience.
Speaking to the 8,000 people present in the Paul VI Hall, Francis first reminded them that we are in a year dedicated to St. Joseph, 150 years since Blessed Pius IX proclaimed St. Joseph patron of the universal Church on December 8, 1870. "He reminds each of us to give importance to what others discard. In this sense he is truly a master of the essential: he reminds us that what is truly valuable does not attract our attention, but demands patient discernment to be discovered and valued." "Never as today, in this time marked by a global crisis with different components, he can be of support, comfort and guidance to us. This is why I have decided to dedicate a cycle of catechesis to him, which I hope will further help us to allow ourselves to be enlightened by his example and testimony."
Francis explained that the name Joseph in Hebrew means "may God increase, may God give growth”. "It is a wish, a blessing based on trust in providence and referring especially to fertility and to raising children. Indeed, this very name reveals to us an essential aspect of Joseph of Nazareth’s personality. He is a man full of faith, in providence: he believes in God’s providence, he has faith in God’s providence. His every action, as recounted in the Gospel, is dictated by the certainty that God “gives growth”, that God “increases”, that God “adds”: that is, that God provides for the continuation of his plan of salvation."
And from the fact that "the Son of God does not choose Jerusalem as the place of his incarnation, but Bethlehem and Nazareth, two peripheral villages, far from the clamor of the chronicle and the power of the time," tells us that "the periphery and marginality are preferred by God." "To fail to take this fact seriously is equivalent to not take seriously the Gospel and the work of God, who continues to manifest himself in the geographical and existential peripheries. The Lord always acts in secret in the peripheries, even in our souls, in the peripheries of the soul, of feelings, perhaps feelings of which we are ashamed; but the Lord is there to help us move forward. The Lord continues to manifest himself in the peripheries, both geographical and existential. In particular, Jesus goes in search of sinners; he goes into their homes, speaks with them, calls them to conversion. And he is also rebuked for this: “But look, this Master”, say the doctors of the law, “Look at this Master: he eats with sinners, he gets dirty”. He goes in search also of those who have done no evil but have suffered it: the sick, the hungry, the poor, the least. Jesus always goes out to the peripheries of our heart, the peripheries of our soul, this is, that slightly obscure part that we do not show, perhaps out of shame."
"In this respect, the society of that time is not very different from ours. Today, too, there is a centre and a periphery. And the Church knows that she is called to proclaim the good news from the periphery. Joseph, who is a carpenter from Nazareth and who trusts in God’s plan for his young fiancée and for himself, reminds the Church to keep her eyes on what the world deliberately ignores. Today Joseph teaches us this: “Do not look so much at the things that the world praises, look into the corners, look in the shadows, look at the peripheries, at what the world does not want”. He reminds each of us to accord consider important what others discard. In this sense he is truly a master of the essential: he reminds us that what truly matters does not attract our attention, but requires patient discernment to be discovered and appreciated. To discover what matters. Let us ask him to intercede so that the whole Church may recover this insight, this ability to discern, this capacity to evaluate what is essential. Let us start again from Bethlehem, let us start again from Nazareth."
"Today I would like to send a message to all the men and women who live in the most forgotten geographical peripheries of the world, or who experience situations of existential marginalisation. May you find in Saint Joseph the witness and protector to look to. We can turn to him with this prayer, a “home-made” prayer, but one that comes from the heart:
Saint Joseph, you who have always trusted God,and have made your choices guided by his providence, teach us not to count so much on our own plans, but on his plan of love.
You who come from the peripheries, help us to convert our gaze, and to prefer what the world discards and marginalises. Comfort those who feel alone and support those who work silently, to defend life and human dignity. Amen. "
"Let us ask Saint Joseph to intercede for the Church, that we may always set forth anew from Bethlehem, in order to see and appreciate what is essential in God’s eyes."