03/05/2023, 13.07
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Pope: human traffickers must be stopped

At the Angelus Francis returned to the tragedy seven days ago off the Italian coast, with dozens of migrants killed in a shipwreck: "May the Lord give us the strength to understand and to mourn." In his commentary on the Gospel passage of the Transfiguration, "It is by being with Jesus that we learn to recognize, in his face, the luminous beauty of love that gives itself, even when it bears the marks of the cross."

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "May the Lord give us the strength to understand and to mourn." A week after the tragedy in the waters of Cutro, with the death of dozens of migrants off the Italian coast of Crotone, Pope Francis returned today at the Angelus to make a strong appeal against the drama of hope trips that turn into tragedy.

"I express my sorrow," Francis told the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, "I pray for the victims of the shipwreck, for their families, for the survivors. I express my appreciation and gratitude to the local population and institutions for their solidarity and welcome to these brothers and sisters of ours. I renew my appeal to everyone not to repeat such tragedies," he added.

"Let the human traffickers be stopped, let them not continue to dispose of the lives of so many innocent people. Let the journeys of hope never again turn into journeys of death. May the clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea no longer be bloodied by such dramatic incidents."

Before the Angelus prayer - commenting on the Gospel passage of the Transfiguration proposed by the liturgy on this second Sunday of Lent - Pope Francis had paused to reflect on the beauty manifested by Jesus. "What a surprise for the disciples," he observed, "They had had the face of Love before their eyes for so long, and they had never noticed how beautiful it was. Only now do they realize it, with immense joy."

But Jesus with this experience is forming His disciples, preparing them for the most important step. "Soon thereafter," Francis continued, "they will have to know how to recognize the same beauty in Him, when He ascends the cross and His face is disfigured. Peter struggles to understand: he would like to stop time, to put the scene on 'pause," to stand there and prolong this wonderful experience; but Jesus does not allow it. For his light cannot be reduced to a magical moment. Then it would become a fake, artificial thing, dissolving into the fog of passing feelings. The beauty of Jesus is not alienating, it does not make you hide: it always carries you forward."

Hence the pontiff pointed the faithful to a message related to each person's daily life: "It teaches us," he explained, "how important it is to be with Jesus, even when it is not easy to understand everything He says and does for us. It is by being with Him, in fact, that we learn to recognize, on His face, the luminous beauty of love that gives itself, even when it bears the marks of the cross. And it is in His school that we learn to grasp the same beauty in the faces of the people who walk beside us every day." 

"How many bright faces," he concluded, "how many smiles, how many wrinkles, how many tears and scars speak of love around us! Let us learn to recognize them and fill our hearts with them. And then let us set out, to bring the light we have received to others as well, with the concrete works of love, diving more generously into daily occupations, loving, serving and forgiving with more enthusiasm and willingness."

In his greetings to the faithful after the prayer Francis also recalled the victims of the train accident in Greece, including many young students: "I pray for the deceased, I am close to the injured and their families," he said. Addressing, finally, a representation of the Ukrainian community from Milan in Rome for a pilgrimage in the name of St. Jehoshaphat, he praised their commitment to welcoming their compatriots and called on all to continue to pray that God would grant peace to this tormented people."

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