Passion for the Common Good

October 3, 2017

The Pope’s remarks on 1-2 October in Bologna

2 Oct 2017, Zenit

“To embrace and serve this city, a good and great heart is needed, in which the passion for the common good is conserved,” Pope Francis told members of the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI) on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

Below is the Vatican Press Office – provided translation of the Pope’s address to those present:


Address of the Holy Father

Dear brothers and sisters,

I welcome you with pleasure and I thank your president for his kind words, and I also thank the mayor of Prato for his words.

In the first pages of the Bible we find the story of Babel (cf. Gen 11: 1-9), the incomplete city , destined to remain in the memory of humanity as a symbol of confusion and loss, presumption and division, that incapacity for understanding that makes any joint endeavour impossible.

The Bible also closes with a city (cf. Rev 21: 10-27). On the contrary to Babel, the new Jerusalem has the perfume of heaven and recounts a renewed world. Not that this is to be taken for granted: living there remains a gift; one enters there to the extent that one contributes to generating relations of fraternity and communion.

It is meaningful that the Sacred Scripture, to indicate to us the ultimate reality of the universe, resorts to this icon. The image of the city – with the suggestions it inspires – expresses how human society can hold up only when it rests on true solidarity, whereas when jealousy, unfettered ambition and the spirit of adversity grow, this is condemned to violence and chaos.

The city I would like to talk to you about summarizes in one the many that are entrusted to your responsibility. It is a city that does not admit the single meanings of an exasperated individualism, that dissociated private from public interest. Nor does it tolerate the blind alleyways of corruption, where the scourges of disintegration set in. It does not know the walls of the privatisation of public spaces, where “we” is reduced to a slogan, to artificial rhetoric that masks the interest of the few.

Building this city requires from you not a pretentious upward momentum, but humble, daily grassroots commitment. It is not about raising the tower even higher, but broadening the square, making space, giving to each person the possibility of the realization of the self and the family, and of opening up to communion with others.

To embrace and serve this city, a good and great heart is needed, in which the passion for the common good is conserved. It is this outlook that leads to the grown in the person of the dignity of being citizens. Promoting social justice, and therefore work, services, opportunities. Creating countless initiatives for inhabiting the territory and taking care of it. Educating in co-responsibility.  Because the city is a living organism, a great animated body where, if one part struggles to breathe, it is also because it does not receive enough oxygen from the others.  I think of the realities in which the availability and quality of services is lower, and new pockets of poverty and marginalization are formed. It is there that the city moves along in two lanes: on one side, the motorway of those who travel, hyper-guaranteed, and on the other the alleys of the poor and the unemployed, large families, immigrants, those who have no one they can count on.

We must not accept these mindsets that separate and that ensure that the life of one is the death of another, and the struggle ends up destroying any sense of solidarity and human brotherhood.

To you, mayors, may I say to you, as a brother: it is necessary to frequent the peripheries: urban, social and existential. The point of view of the last is the best school – it enables us to understand what the truest needs are and to lay bare those solutions that merely appear that way. As it takes the pulse of injustice, it also shows us the way to eliminate it: building communities where each person feels recognised as a person and as a citizen, a holder of rights and duties, in the indissoluble logic that binds the interest of the individual to the common good. Because all that contributes to the good of all contributes also to the good of the individual.

To move according to this perspective, we need politics and an economy newly centred on ethics: an ethics of responsibility, relations, community and the environment. Likewise, we need an authentic “we”, in the form of solid and lasting citizenship. We need a politics of welcome and integration, that does not leave at the margins those who arrive in our territory, but rather that makes efforts to render fruitful the resources that each person bears.

I understand the unease of many of our citizens in the face of the arrival of many migrants and refugees. This can be explained by the innate wariness towards the “foreigner”, a wariness aggravated by the wounds caused by the economic crisis, the unpreparedness of local communities, the inadequacy of many measures adopted in a climate of emergency. Such unease can be overcome by offering spaces for personal encounter and mutual knowledge. Therefore, all those initiatives that promote the culture of encounter, the reciprocal exchange of artistic and cultural riches, and the knowledge of places and communities of origin of the new arrivals, are all welcome.

I rejoice in the knowledge that many local administrations represented are among the main advocates of good reception and integration practices, with encouraging outcomes that deserve to be widely disseminated. I remember the arrival of Albanians in Bari, as an example. I hope that many will follow your example.

In this way, politics can perform its fundamental task of helping to look to the future with hope. It is the hope in tomorrow that brings out the best energies of each person, and of the young, first and foremost. May they not remain only as the recipients of noble projects, but also become their protagonists; then you will also reap the benefits.

I hope you will be able to feel supported by the people to whom you dedicate your time – that familiarity of the mayor with his people, that closeness – your competence, and your availability. On your part, may the loftiness of your effort and the importance of what is at stake mean you are always generous and unbiased in your service to the common good.

In this way, the city will become a forerunner and reflection of the heavenly Jerusalem. It will be a sign of God’s goodness and tenderness in the time of mankind. A mayor must have the virtue of prudence for governing, but also the virtue of courage to move ahead and the virtue of tenderness to draw closer to the weakest.

Thank you for this meeting. I pray for you, and please, do not forget to pray for me, as I am in need. Thank you.

[Original Text: Italian] © Libreria Editrice Vaticana 

The Pope addresses the Bologna University students and speaks of the “right to culture, hope and peace”, “We need words that reach the minds and hearts”. His appeal against war, “We are not neutral, but stand for peace!”

The Pope addresses the Bologna university students


We have “the right not to be invaded on a daily basis by the rhetoric of fear and hatred”, the right “not to be overwhelmed by populist slogans or by the disturbing and profitable spread of fake news”. Francis pointed out during his meeting with students and the academic world of Bologna, in Piazza San Domenico, during which he renewed his appeal to take distance from the “reasons of war” and not to be “neutral, but stand for peace”…

The Pope then explained that “the search for good is the key to true academic success; love is the ingredient that flavors the treasures of knowledge and, in particular, the rights of man and peoples”And thus, he proposed a reflection on three rights, “which I think are topical”. The first is the right to culture. Today, especially – he said – the right to culture means protecting wisdom, that is, a human and humanizing knowledge. Too often we are conditioned by trivial and ephemeral life-styles, which push us to pursue a low-cost success, by discrediting sacrifice and by drilling in our heads the idea that studying is of no use if it does not give something concrete immediately. No, we study to ask questions, not to be anesthetized by banality, we study to seek meaning in life.”

The Pope invited university students to “respond to the paralyzing choruses of cultural consumerism with active and strong choices, through research, knowledge and sharing.” “By harmonizing this beauty in life – the pope continued – you will foster true culture. Because the knowledge that is put at the service of the highest bidder, and ends up fuelling divisions and justifying oppression, is not culture “. Culture – as the word itself says – is what is cultivated, is what makes people grow. And in the face of so much complaining and clamor around us, what we don’t need today are those who vent their frustration screaming, but those who promote good culture“.

We need words – Bergoglio added – that can reach the minds and hearts, and not shouts aimed at the stomach. Pleasing the audience is not enough; let us not follow the circus of indignation that often conceals great egoismslet us devote ourselves with passion to education, that is to “drawing out” the best from each person for the good of all. To counter what Francis defines the “pseudo-culture that reduces humans to waste, research into interest and science into technique” we need a “human-size” culture, a research that recognizes merits and rewards sacrifices, a technique that does not bend to business purposes, a progress that recognizes that not everything that is convenient is legitimate”.

The Pontiff then spoke of the right to hope. Many today experience loneliness and restlessness, feeling the “heavy air” of abandonment. We must give more room to the right to hope. We have the right not to be invaded on a daily basis by the rhetoric of fear and hatred. The right not to be overwhelmed by populist phrases or by the disturbing and profitable spread of fake news “. Francis then asked to set “a reasonable limit to crime reporting news, so to voice more [positive] news that is too often silent. The right for you, young people to grow up free from the “fear” of the future, the right to know that there are beautiful and lasting realities in life, that are worthwhile putting yourself at stake for. The right to believe that true love is not something “disposable” and that work is not a mirage to reach for, but a promise for each one, a promise that must be kept “. The Pope then expressed a wish, “may the university classrooms be “yards of hope, workshops where we work on a better future, where we learn to be responsible for ourselves and the world! Feel the responsibility for the future of our home, which is a common home.”  

Finally, the right to peace. Here, at the roots of the European university, the Pontiff recalls the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, of the beginnings of a united Europe, born after the tragedies of the two world wars and born to protect the right to peace. Today, “many interests and more than a few conflicts seem to vanish the great visions of peace . We are experiencing an uncertain fragility and it is hard to dream big. Yet, don’t be afraid of unity,” Francis warns. May special interests and nationalism not render the courageous dreams of the founders of the European Union in vain” the Pope said, recalling the millions of people who lost their lives in conflicts and the cry that one hundred years ago had raised Benedict XV, former bishop of Bologna. Parting company from the so-called “reasons of war” – Bergoglio adds – to many seemed like an affront. But history teaches that war is always and “only” a useless massacre. Let us help each other out, as the Italian Constitution states, to “reject war”, to undertake nonviolence and paths of justice, which promote peace “. 

“We cannot be indifferent or neutral before peace”, Francis added and then quoted the words of a great archbishop of Bologna, Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro:”The Church cannot be neutral in the face of evil, from whatever side it comes: her life is not neutrality, but prophecy”. Not neutral, therefore, “but stand for peace”. We therefore call for the ius pacis as the right of all to resolve conflicts without violence. For this reason, let us repeat: “never again, war, never again, against others, never again, without others! May the interests and the often-obscure plots of those who manufacture violence – which fuel the arms race and trample peace with business – come to light“.

Bergoglio finally asked, “to affirm the rights of people and peoples, of the weakest, of those who are discarded, and of creation, our common home”. Do not believe – he added – to those who tell you that fighting for this is useless and that nothing will change! Don’t be satisfied with little dreams, but dream big. Francis invited the young people to dream, “I too dream, but not just when I sleep, as for true dream you need your eyes open before the light of the sun. With you I want to renew the dream of a new European humanism, to which we need memory, courage, along with a healthy and humane utopia, the dream of a mother Europe, which respects life and offers hope for life; of a Europe where young people breathe the clean air of honesty, love the beauty of culture and of a simple life unpolluted by the infinite needs of consumerism; where marrying and having children are a responsibility and a great joy, and not a problem due to the lack of a stable work. It is a dream of a Europe that “mindful of its culture, gives hope to its children and is an instrument of peace for the world”.


Excerpt from 1 Oct 2017

“Climbers do so much harm, because they are in the community but only think about getting themselves ahead.” 

The other vice is “Gossip”… “have you heard about… “, and this is how the reputation of our fellow brother priest ends up dirty and ruined. Thank God, I am not like him “, this is what gossip sounds like”. Careerism and gossip are the two clerical vices, Francis says. Instead, a pastor is called to share “a good relationship with the people of God, to whom he must stand before in order to indicate the path”; he must be “in the midst of the flock to help” and above all “behind to watch how everything is going”.

Believing in the “psychology of survival “– he continues – is like waiting for the funeral carriage which will ultimately lead our institute” to close down for good. Believing in the psychology of survival leads to “the cemetery”. It is a question of “pessimism, and this is not the attitude that men and women of faith should have, it is not an evangelical attitude, but a defeat”. And perhaps while “we wait for the carriage, we manage ourselves as we can, and take some money to be safe. This leads to a lack of poverty. The psychology of survival is “to seek for security in money” We hear at times:” In our institution we are old and there are no vocations but we have assets to ensure the end “, and this is the most suitable way to take us to death”. In the consecrated life, Security “does not come from money, it comes from somewhere else”, it comes from God. There are some congregations “that are diminishing while their wealth grows, with some religious who attach themselves to money as a form of security. Here you go, the psychology of survival.

Thus the problem “is not so much chastity or obedience, but poverty. A consecrated gets corrupt because it lacks poverty “. Saint Ignatius of Loyola “called poverty mother and wall in religious life: mother who generates and wall that defends from worldliness”. Without this attitude of poverty and disinterestedness, one does not “bet on divine hope”. Money “is the ruin of consecrated life”. But God is good, “because when a congregation begins to collect money, He sends a treasurer who destroys everything. The Pope says smiling, “If I hear that a congregation lost all its possessions, I say” Thank you Lord “.

The Pope exhorts “an examination of conscience on poverty, both personal and of the institute”. On the lack of vocations, one must ask the Lord, “What is going on with my institute? Why is fertility lacking? Why young people no longer feel inspired by the charism of my institute? For Francis, the “heart” of the problem is “poverty”. Hence an encouragement, “Consecrated life is a slap to spiritual worldliness. Go forward”. 

More on Service to the Common Good.  Also, corruption is an obsession, a “woodworm”. “A good politician is also a martyr”

The Pope begins his visit in Cesena speaking of politics, “may it not be servant nor master, but a friend and collaborator”. “It is time for dialogue between young people and the elderly. Take this road”. “May politicians who make mistakes, apologies. And then, keep going forward”. Administrators “May leave their ideas behind for the sake of the common good

Pope Francis in Cesena, 1 Oct 2017


Politics should be “neither servant nor master, but a friend and collaborator”. It should neither be “fearful or reckless, but responsible and courageous and prudent”. It should not leave certain categories on the sidelines, nor plunder or pollute natural resources.

Politics are to harmonize the legitimate aspirations of individuals and groups by keeping the helm firmly focused on the interests of the entire citizenship.

Pope Francis began his visit to central Italy, first in Cesena, he will later move to Bologna, in Piazza del Popolo, – People’s square – a name and a symbol of a meeting place that recalls the common good, a place where– the Pope says – “the common good is kneaded”.

The Pontiff invites politicians to apologize when they make mistakes, and then to “go forward”. He then called corruption “woodworm” and stated that the good politician is also a “martyr”, who agrees to abandon their ideas in order to be “at service”. Finally, Francis once again reiterated his appeal to strengthen dialogue between young and old generations.  

Today October 1,2017, the Pontiff is in Cesena and Bologna, for the third centenary of Pope Pius VI’s birth and for the conclusion of the diocesan Eucharistic Congress. On his arrival at the heliport, near the Hippodrome of Cesena, the Pope was greeted, among others, by Monsignor Douglas Regattieri, Bishop of Cesena-Sarsina. Immediately after, the Holy Father was transferred by car to Piazza del Popolo, where he met the citizens.

The Pontiff said to be, “happy to start my visit is Cesena, in such a significant place for the civil and social life of your city. A city – he recalls – rich in civilization and history, which among its illustrious children there are also two Popes: Pius VI, whose third centenary of birth we shall remember today, and Pius VII “.

For centuries, “this square has been the meeting point for citizens and the area where the market takes place. It deserves its name: Piazza del Popolo, or simply “la Piazza”, a public space in which important decisions are made for the city in its Palazzo Comunale [town-council] and economic and social initiatives are launched”. An “emblematic place, where the aspirations of each individual are confronted with the needs, expectations and dreams of the entire citizenship; where particular groups become aware that their desires must be harmonized with those of the community; where it is learned that, without pursuing the common good with constancy, commitment and intelligence, not even individuals will be able to take advantage of their rights and realize their noblest aspirations, because the public and civil space in which to live and work has become less”. This is the place where “the common good is kneaded, where one works for the common good”.

The centrality of the square “therefore sends the message that it is essential to work together for the common good. This is the basis of good city-governance,which can make a city beautiful, healthy and welcoming, a crossroads of initiatives and a driving force for sustainable and integral development.:

And Piazza del Popolo, “like all the other squares in Italy, recalls the need for “good politics” for the life of the community; “good politics”, and not that one enslaved by individual ambitions or by the arrogance of factions or centers of interest – the Pope emphasizes – but politics that are “neither servant nor master, but a friend and collaborator”. It should neither be “fearful or reckless, but responsible and courageous and prudent”; that makes people’s involvement, their progressive inclusion and participation grow”; and “that does not leave certain categories on the sidelines, that does not plunder and pollute natural resources – as they are not a bottomless well but a treasure donated to us by God for us to use with respect and intelligence. We need politics able to harmonize the legitimate aspirations of individuals and groups by keeping a firm focus on the interests of the entire citizenship.”

This is “the true face of politics and its raison d’ être: a priceless service to the good of the whole community. And this is why the Church’s social doctrine considers it a noble form of charity”.

Francis exhorts the young and older generation “to prepare themselves adequately and engage personally in this field, assuming from the beginning a perspective towards the common good and rejecting even the slightest form of corruption”. 

Then again unscripted the Pope said , “Corruption is the worm – that corrodes – political vocation, it does not allow civilization to grow and, the good politician also have their own cross when they wants to be good because they often must set aside their personal ideas to take up somebody else’s initiatives and harmonize them, unite them so that they are common good. In this sense, the good politician feels as if he or she were a martyr, let’s say, “at service” because they set aside their own ideas, but put them at the service to go towards the common good”.

At this point, the Pontiff exhorts, as he has done many times before, a greater dialogue between generations, in particular between young and old people because “the elderly people, with their wisdom, can correct the politician who gets of track, by pointing them out the right path. Today it is not only the time of young people, but it is the time for young people and the elderly together. It is time “of the youth-elderly dialogue. Please, take this road!. Even, and especially, in politics.”

The Bishop of Rome then encouraged “to ask the protagonists of public life, to be coherent, to commit, to be prepared and have moral righteousness, capacity for initiative, forbearance, patience and strength of mind in facing today’s challenges, without, however, demanding an impossible perfection”.

“Human and historical events and the complexity of the problems do not allow us to solve everything right away. Healthy realism knows that even the best ruling class cannot suddenly solve all the issues. To realize this, would be enough to try to act firsthand instead of just observe and criticize the work of others from the balcony “. 

In this way, we will find the strength to take on our due responsibilities, and at the same time understand that, despite God’s help and People’ collaboration, we are bound to make mistakes “And when it happens, that a politician is wrong, he or she is to apologize – the Pope exclaims without reading the written text – and then keep going forward”.  

“Like all of the Romagna area, Cesena “has traditionally been a politically passionate land”, he recalls; here, “I would like to say to you, and to everyone: rediscover, today as well, the essential dimension’s value of civil coexistence and give your own contribution, and be ready to make the common good prevail over that of a single part; be ready to recognize that every idea must be verified and reshaped in comparison with reality; ready to recognize that it is fundamental to start initiatives.

Francis emphasizes, Be demanding with yourself and with others, bearing in mind that conscientious commitment, preceded by adequate preparation, will yield fruit and make people’s good and even happiness grow”.

“In recent years Politics has seemed to retreat to the aggressiveness and pervasiveness of other forms of power – he observed – such as financial and media power. It is necessary to revive the rights of good policy, its specific suitability to serve the public good, to act in a way that reduces inequalities, to promote the good of families with concrete measures, to provide a solid framework of rights and duties and to make them effective for all.” 

Finally, the Pontiff asked to pray “the Lord so that he may inspire good politicians who truly care about society, the people and the good of the poor”.

Before leaving Piazza del Popolo, Francis addressed a heartfelt thought to “those who are suffering”, then stepped down from the stage and went greeting the sick people present.

“At the root of the economic crisis there is a betrayal of the common good, on the part of powerful individuals and groups”. New call for employment

“Let us never bend solidarity to the logic of financial profit” Pope Francis on the churchyard of St. Petronio Basilica overlooking Piazza Maggiore, speaks to the world of labor. Archbishop Zuppi who greeted the Pope, upon arrival, recalled that Bologna is a welcoming city and quoted Saint Petronio as “pater et protecto”, father and protector.

The Church’s life is in the square, in the streets – added Zuppi – because she does not lose her truth by mixing with others. Those who look to the future, tear down walls, they do not build them. The archbishop concluded his speech by recalling the importance of concertation and St. Francis’ ability to speak with everyone in a “secular” way, as the Pope does today.

Among the various expressions of the world of labor, said Bergoglio taking the floor, “there is unfortunately also some negative ones, i.e. the difficult sometimes anguishing situation, of unemployment”. The Pope addressed the delegations representing “different social partners, often under discussion among themselves” and emphasized that it is only together that we can come through the present economic crisis and “build the future.” “Only dialogue, he said, can help us find new and effective answers that can help everyone. We need stable solutions that can help us look to the future to meet the needs of people and families.”

The Pope then recalled the cooperative experience, “which stems from the fundamental value of solidarity. Today it still has a lot to offer, even to help many who are in difficulty and need that “social lift” that some people think is completely useless. Solidarity, he said, must never be bent toward to the logic of financial profit, which would harm the most needy amongst us. “Seeking a more just society,” he continued, “is not a dream of the past but a commitment, a work, that today needs everyone’s cooperation”. A warning to the world of cooperation never to forget its origins and identity. 

“The situation of youth unemployment and that of many who have lost their jobs and are unable to reintegrate – says Francis again – are realities to which we cannot get used to, we must never treat them as if they were just statistics”

The challenge of welcoming and fighting poverty- Bergoglio adds – go largely through the world of labor. We cannot truly help the poor without offering them the possibility of finding work and dignity. This is the exciting challenge, it is like during the reconstruction-years after the war, that had left the country in extreme poverty. The recent “Pact for Work,” in which various elements of society, including the Church, made “a common commitment to help one another in the search for permanent answers, not charity.” This, Francis said, “is an important method that I hope can bear the hoped-for fruits.”

Francis therefore spoke of the economic crisis, recalling that it has “a European and global dimension; and, as we know, it is also an ethical, spiritual and human crisis and, in strong terms, he says it is rooted in “a betrayal of the common good, on the part of powerful individuals and groups.”  

According to the Pope, it is necessary “to take away the centrality of the law of power and assign it to the person and the common good.” But in order to do so, he continued, it is necessary to increase opportunities for dignified work.”

Here we are in front of San Petronio – Francesco concluded – From here we physically see three constitutive aspects of your city: the Church, the Municipality and the University. “When these three elements dialogue and collaborate among themselves,” he said, “it strengthens the precious humanism that they express, and the city, so to speak, ‘breathes,’ has a horizon, and is not afraid to confront the challenges that are present.”  

I encourage you to appreciate this humanism “in order to seek wise and far-seeing solutions to the complex problems of our time, seeing them, yes, as difficulties, but also as opportunities for growth and improvement.” And this applies to Italy and to the whole of Europe”.

After reciting the Angelus, the Pope recalled the beatification of Tito Zeman yesterday. The Mayor of Bologna, Paolo Lucchi, gave the Pope a reproduction of Liber Paradisus with the names of the slaves to whom the city redeemed and paid for freedom 760 years ago. Francis had referred to this book moments before at the Regional Hub, when meeting immigrants.

Before entering the San Petronio basilica for lunch, Francis greeted a group of survivors of the Marzabotto massacre and some family members of the victims of the Bologna massacre and the Ustica airplane disaster. Among those who shook the Pontiff’s hand, was Marina Orlandi, widow of Marco Biagi, the worker-rights-lawyer murdered by the Red Brigades in 2002, and Gianni Morandi, who had sung in the square while awaiting for Francis’ arrival. He concluded his greetings with Andrea Cangini, QN’s director, who two years ago spread the fake news that the Pope was affected by a brain tumor.


Rediscovering Joys 1 Oct 2017

Priests should always rediscover “the joy of being priests”. To those who are always sad “I would ask:” did you drink vinegar for breakfast?

In the Cathedral of Cesena, Francis met the clergy, consecrated persons, pastoral counsels, the curia and representatives of the parishes, to denounce today’s “socio-economic situation” that is hampering the “beautiful relationship” between parents and children, who must have the time to play together.  

Pope Bergoglio recalls that co-responsibility is a keyword” for evangelization. And when the “love in Christ is placed above everything else, even above legitimate special needs, then one becomes capable of “going out of oneself”, of decentralizing oneself both on an individual level and from the group, and – always in Christ – to go meet one’s brothers and sisters”.

The wounds “of Jesus’ remain visible in so many men and women who live on the margins of society: people marked by suffering, alienation, abandonment and poverty. People wounded by life’s harsh trials, who are humiliated, in prison or in hospital. This is why “approaching and treating with tenderness these wounds, often not only corporal but also spiritual, will purify and transform us through God’s mercy”.

About the diaconia’s duties towards the poor, the Pope “likes to recall the example of Saint Vincent de Paoli, who 400 years ago in France, began a true charity “revolution”. Today, too, we are asked to go forward with apostolic ardor in the open sea of poverty of our time, aware, however, that we cannot do anything on our own “. 

Therefore, it is necessary “to devote adequate space to prayer and meditation on the Word of God: prayer is the strength of our mission – as Saint Teresa of Calcutta has shown us more recently”.

Francis then warns against a danger, “Today many faces can be seen through the media, but there is a risk of looking less and less into each other’s eyes. Instead, it is by “looking at people with respect and love that we too can make the revolution of tenderness”. 

Among those “who need the most to experience Jesus’ love, are young people. Thanks to God, they are a living part of the Church – the next Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will involve them directly – they will have the chance to communicate their testimony to their peers: young apostles among the young, as Blessed Paul VI wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii nuntiandi”. The Church “counts on them very much and is aware of their great resourcefulness, their predisposition to what is good, beautiful, to authentic freedom and justice. They need help to discover the gifts that the Lord has endowed them, encouragement not to fear before today’s great challenges. Therefore, Jorge Mario Bergoglio encourages the men and women present in the Cathedral of Cesena to “meet them, listen to them, walk with them, so that they may meet Christ and his liberating message of love”. In the Gospel and in the “Church’s coherent witness, they can find a life-vision that can help them overcome the conditioning of a subjective culture that exalts the ego to the point of idolize it, a perspective able to give them instead, proposals and projects of solidarity”.

“A Church attentive to young people is a “Church, family of families.” I encourage you in your work with families and for the family. A work that the Lord is asking asks us to do in a particular way in these difficult times for the family both – as society’s institution and fundamental cell – and for those concrete families, who bear much of the burden of the socio-economic crisis without receiving adequate support in return”. But precisely when the situation is difficult, God “makes you feel his closeness, grace and prophetic power of his Word. We are called to be witnesses, mediators of His closeness to families and of this prophetic force for the family.”

At this point Francis went off script, recounting once again a personal story, “When I confess young parents and they tell me that they are tired, that they lose patience with their children because they have so much to do, I first ask how many children they have, and then I ask them another question: ‘do you play with your children?’ Many times I have heard the answer, especially from the fathers, “When I leave the house they are still asleep, and when I come back they are already in bed”. Francis so denounced, “This socio-economic situation closes the beautiful relationship between parents and children. We must work to ensure that this does not happen. Parents have to waste time with their children, they have to play with them,” he says

Then Francis made a joke but, “Dear priests, you do not have kids eh… [laughter, ed.] yes, actually there is a Greek-Catholic pastor over there who has them [more laughter, ed.] Priests “are entrusted with the ministry of meeting Christ; and this presumes you meeting with Him every day, your being in Him. I wish you, to constantly rediscover, in the various stages of your personal and ministerial journey, the joy of being priests, of being called by the Lord to follow him in order to bring his word, his forgiveness, his love, his grace.” Francis says, again without reading, “So many times I see sad priests, and I think to myself: but what did you have for breakfast, coffee or vinegar? The priests ought to contaminate everyone with “the joy of ending the day tired, of not needing any sleeping pills to fall asleep”

Francis finally thanked everyone wholeheartedly “for this encounter and I entrust each of you and your communities, your projects and hopes to the Holy Virgin, whom you invoke with a very beautiful title:” Our Lady of the People…Not populist” he said jokingly again.   The Pope then reached the heliport by car and left for Bologna. The Bishop of Cesena-Sarsina Monsignor Douglas Regattieri, reports to the microphones of Teleromagna TV the words that the Pope addressed to him shortly before his departure, “I feel like a parish priest. Your Excellency, don’t be surprised if I use some down to earth expressions, but I feel like a parish priest.