06/18/2023, 16.44
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Pope: sadness and sorrow for the victims of the ‘serious shipwreck’ in the Mediterranean

In his address during the Angelus, Francis noted that the sea was calm and that nothing was in the way of a rescue operation. As the UN marks World Refugee Days this coming week, “everything possible [must] be done to prevent similar tragedies,” the pope said. He thanked everyone for their show of affection and closeness during his surgery and hospitalisation. He also urged the faithful to pray for the students in Uganda and the people of Ukraine. The love of God is "the fundamental reality of life".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – During today’s Angelus, Pope Francis addressed the faithful in St Peter's Square for the first time since he underwent surgery at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital on 7 June.

In his address, the pontiff thanked everyone for all the prayers. Afterwards, he expressed “great sorrow and heartache” for “the victims of the serious shipwreck that occurred in recent days off the coast of Greece” when it seems “the sea were calm.”

Today’s was Francis’s first "public appointment" since his operation. Last week, he recited the Angelus privately in his hospital room. During his hospitalisation, he met with other patients, including children in the cancer ward.

Speaking about the shipwreck, Francis stressed that the conditions of the sea were not an obstacle to a rescue mission. He also pointed out that next Tuesday, 20 June, is World Refugee Day. Renewing his prayers “for those who have lost their lives,” he “implore[d] that everything possible always be done to prevent similar tragedies.”

The pope also prayed “for the young students, victims of the brutal attack against a school in the west of Uganda. This battle, this war everywhere” calls upon us to “persevere in prayer”, including for “the population of tormented Ukraine [. . .] who suffer greatly.”

At the start of the Angelus and after greeting the many faithful, the pontiff expressed his "gratitude" for the human and spiritual closeness, the affection shown to him during his stay in hospital. “Thank you all! Thank you! Thank you from my heart!”

Almost two weeks ago, Pope Francis underwent successful abdominal surgery (laparotomy), the second in three years. Thanks to a speedy recovery, he left the hospital two days ago in a wheelchair, in a good mood, greeting patients and journalists, going first to Our Lady in Santa Maria Maggiore before returning to the Vatican.

Later the Vatican Press Office announced that while the pontiff would attend all scheduled audiences, he would skip the General Audience on Wednesday to ensure his full post-operative recovery.

Earlier, commenting today’s Gospel, Francis mentioned Jesus's meeting with the 12 apostles, "whom he calls by name and sends out [. . .] to proclaim just one thing", i.e. “the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.

This is a reference to the start of preaching the kingdom of God, which is "his lordship of love" and "the fundamental reality of life".

“Here is the first thing to say to people: God is not far away, but he is a Father. God is not distant, he is a Father, he knows you and he loves you; he wants to take you by the hand, even when you travel on steep and rugged paths, even when you fall and struggle to get up again and get back on track.”

The pontiff went on to invite the faithful “to think like a child, who walks held by his father’s hand: everything seems different. The world, large and mysterious, becomes familiar and secure, because the child knows he is protected.”

This allows the child to overcome fear and open up to people, find friends and discover the desire to "become grown up and do the things he has seen his daddy do.”

“[B]y staying close to God, we conquer fear, we open ourselves to love, we grow in goodness and we feel the need and the joy to proclaim.”

Hence, to be good apostles, we must be "like children" and "sit ‘on God's lap’ and from there, look at the world with trust and love".

Following this point, Francis said that to proclaim it is not necessary to say many words. In fact, unlike “the ‘talkers’ with their endless talk and no action”, all it takes is “performing many deeds of love and hope in the name of the Lord”, which is the “heart of proclamation: witness freely given, service.”

At the end of the Angelus, Francis urged the faithful to pray to “Mary; may she help us feel we are loved and transmit closeness and trust.”

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