03/21/2015, 00.00
VATICAN - ITALY
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Pope: in Naples, find hope in Jesus and the power to redeem a city

Corruption "stinks" !. "And a corrupt society ' stinks '! A Christian who allows corruption to enter them is not a Christian, they 'stink'!". "Those who voluntarily take the path of evil steal a piece of hope, earn a little something but steal hope from themselves, from others, from society." "We are all immigrants, children of God: children of God who has put us all on a journey, everyone." "To the criminals and all their accomplices, the Church repeats: convert to love and justice! Let yourselves be touched by the mercy of God!"

Naples (AsiaNews) - "In the mercy of Christ, who makes all things new, this city can find the strength to go forward with hope, strength for so many lives, so many families and communities". These words, spoken during this morning's Mass, encapsulate the sense that Pope Francis wants to give his visit today in Naples, the main city in southern Italy, a beautiful city but one that is troubled by lack of work, organized crime and poverty.

These were also the topics addressed already in the morning, especially in the visit to the infamous suburb of Scampia. Here, in the square dedicated to John Paul II, who visited this district in 1980, Francis heard from representatives of the world of culture, justice, the world of work, the marginalized and migrants.

"I wanted to start my visit to Naples from here - the Pope's first words - from this periphery. I greet you all and thank you for your warm welcome! Really we see that the Neapolitans are not in the least cold."

"You belong to a people with a long, complex and dramatic history. Life in Naples has never been easy, but it has never been sad! This is your greatest asset. Daily life in this city, with its difficulties and its hardships and sometimes its trials, produces a culture of life that always helps people to pick themselves up again after every fall, and to ensure that the evil never has the last word. This is a beautiful challenge: no, never let evil have the last word. It is the hope, as you well know, this great heritage, this 'raising of the soul', which is so precious, but also exposed to assaults and theft. We all know, those who voluntarily take the path of evil steal a piece of hope, earn a little something but steal hope from themselves, from others, from society. The path of evil is one that always steals hope and also robs honest and hardworking people, as well as the good reputation of this city, it robs its economy".

Francis then responded to questions from a Filipino immigrant, a worker and a magistrate. "I would like to speak - he said - to the sister who spoke on behalf of immigrants and the homeless. She asked for a word to ensure that migrants are children of God and citizens. But must we arrive at this point? Are migrants second-class humans? We have to feel that our migrant brothers and sisters are citizens, are like us, God's children, they are migrants like us, because we are all migrants bound for another country, no? And maybe we will all get there? And nobody will be lost on the way! We are all immigrants, all children of God, children of God who has put us all on a journey, everyone. You can not say: 'But migrants are so ... We are. .. '. No! We are all immigrants, we are all on a journey, everyone. And this word is not written in a book, that we are all migrants; it is written in our flesh, eh? In our flesh, in our way of life, and it assures us that in Jesus that we are all children of God, loved children, wanted children, saved children. Think of that! We are all immigrants on the journey of life. None of us have a fixed abode in this land! We all have to leave. And all we have to leave to find God! One before and the other after, or as that old man said, that crafty old man: 'Yes, yes, all! You go on ahead, I will go last! '. All of us, all, we all have to leave".

"Then there were the words of the worker. And I also thank him, because of course I wanted to touch this point, which is a negative sign of our times. Especially the lack of jobs for young people. But you think young people aged 25 years and under, more than 40 percent have no work! But this is serious! What does a young unemployed person do? What is the future? What route can they choose in life? And this is a responsibility not only of the city, not only of the country, but the world! Why? Because there is an economic system that is denying people and now it is the young people's turn to be discarded, that is without jobs. And this is serious! Why? - 'But father, there are the works of charity, there are voluntary services, there is Caritas, there is this center, there's that club, which feeds ... '. But the problem is not eating, the most serious problem is that it does not give them the chance to bring the bread home, to earn it! And when you do not earn your daily bread, you lose your dignity! And this lack of work steals dignity. We have to struggle with this, we have to defend our dignity as citizens, men, women, youth. And this is the drama of our time. We must not remain silent. And also part-time work. What do I mean by this? The exploitation of people in the workplace! A few weeks ago, a girl who needed work found a job in a tourist agency and these were the conditions: 11 hours of work, 600 Euros per month with no contribution for her pension. 'Oh, but it's just 11 hours! If you do not like it, look at the queue of people who are waiting for the job! '. This is called slavery, this is called exploitation, this is not human, this is not Christian. And if the person who does this says he is  Christian, he is a liar, it is not true, he is not Christian. Even the exploitation of black market labor, where you make people work without a contract, with nothing, and you pay them what you want, this is exploitation of people. Without contributions for their pension or healthcare: 'Ah, I do not care'. I understand you well, brother, I understand you well and thank you for saying what you said. We must resume the fight for our dignity, which is the struggle to seek, to find, to rediscover opportunities to bring home the bread! This is our battle".

Finally responding to the judge. "He used a beautiful expression 'path of hope' and remembered a saying of St. John Bosco: 'good Christians and honest citizens', aimed at children and young people. The path of hope for the children, those who are here and everyone is first and foremost that of education, but a real education, the path to educate for a future, and this prevents and helps people to move forward. But he said a word in passing that I would like to take up, a word that is used a lot today, the judge said 'corruption', 'corruption'. But, tell me, if we close the door to immigrants, if we take away people's work and their dignity, what do you call this? It's called corruption! It's called corruption and we all have the opportunity to be corrupt, none of us can say, I'll never be corrupt. No! It is a temptation, it is slipping, there, there, there, into an easy business, into delinquency, into criminality, into the exploitation of people. How much corruption there is in the world. It is a word that if we study it a bit', is bad, no? Because corruption is a dirty thing! If we find a dead animal and is corrupted, , it's ugly. But it also 'stinks', corruption 'stinks'! A corrupt society stinks! A Christian who allows corruption to enter is not Christian, they stink! I Got It? My presence is meant to be an impetus to a journey of hope, rebirth and recovery that is already underway. I know the generous and effective commitment of the Church, present with its community and its services at the very heart of the reality of Scampia; as well as the continued mobilization of voluntary groups, whose help is never lacking. I also encourage the presence and active involvement of the city government, because a community cannot progress without their support, especially in times of crisis and in the presence of difficult and sometimes extreme social situations. 'Good politics' is a service to people, which is exercised primarily at a local level, where the weight of failures, delays, real omission is more direct and hurts more. Good politics is one of the highest expressions of charity, service, and love. Do good politics, but among you all: politics concerns everyone! Good politics depends on you all".

Francis day in Naples began before 8 am, with a stop at the Marian shrine of nearby Pompeii. Here, after a silent pause before the image of Mary, the Pope addressed a prayer to Our Lady, saying among other things: "Mother and model of the Church, you are our guide and secure support. Make us one heart and one mind, a strong people on the way towards the heavenly homeland. We entrust our miseries, the many streets of hate and blood, the thousands of ancient and new poverties and above all, our sins. To you we entrust ourselves, Mother of Mercy: grant us the forgiveness of God, help us to build a world according to your heart. "
His last appointment of the morning was Mass in a packed Piazza del Plebiscito, before almost one hundred thousand people, where he arrived by car between two wings of a cheering crowd that has accompanied him along the entire route.

Here, in a homily dedicated to the "power" of the Word of Jesus, the Pope urged Neapolitans not to allow themselves be robbed of hope and invited criminals to conversion. "Dear Neapolitans - he said - be open to hope and do not allow hope to be stolen from you! Do not give in to the lure of easy money or dishonest income. This may be bread for today but hunger for tomorrow. It cannot bring you anything. React firmly to organizations that exploit and corrupt the young, the poor and the weak, with the cynical drug trade and other crimes. Do not allow hope to be stolen from you. Do not allow your youth to be exploited by these people. May corruption and delinquency not disfigure the face of this beautiful city! Moreover, may it not disfigure the joy of your Neapolitan hearts. To criminals and all their accomplices, today as a brother, I repeat: convert to love and justice! Allow yourselves to find the mercy of God! Know that Jesus is looking for you to embrace you, to love you more. With the grace of God, who forgives all, it is possible to return to an honest life. Even the tears of the mothers of Naples, mixed with those of Mary, the heavenly Mother invoked in Piedigrotta and in many churches of Naples, ask this of you. These tears melt the hardness of hearts and lead all back on the path of goodness. "

"Today - he concluded - is a time of hope. And it is time for redemption for Naples: this is my wish and my prayer for a city that has so much spiritual, cultural and human potential, and above all a great capacity to love. The authorities, institutions, various social realities and citizens, united and in accord, can build a better future. The future of Naples is not to be resigned and to fold in on itself-this is not your future-but the future of Naples is to open itself up with trust to the world. In the mercy of Christ, who makes all things new, this city can find the strength to go forward with hope, strength for so many lives, so many families and communities. To hope is already to resist evil. To hope is to see the world through the eyes and heart of God. To hope is to bet on the mercy of God, who is Father and always forgives and forgives everything".

The Pope's morning concluded with a visit to Poggioreale prison, for  lunch with a group of inmates. His one day visit to Naples concludes in the late afternoon

 

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