His second visit within Italy, this Bishop of Rome taken “from the ends of the earth” who chose the name of the Saint of Assisi, was to an island, like Lampedusa. That journey, the first of his Pontificate, was to one of the most dramatic margins of our time; there he had wanted to express forcefully his concern for the global phenomenon of migration. In an analogous way, during the day spent in Cagliari, Pope Francis spoke words that went far beyond the shores of Sardinia.
Standing before Our Lady of Bonaria as though for a debt of the heart, the Pontiff spoke about the lack of work and of a social system that is increasingly inhuman, he spoke about solidarity and the epic crisis that is spreading the poison of resignation. And he did this with extraordinary effectiveness, not as “an employee of the Church who comes to you and says: be brave! No, I don't want to do this! I would want this courage to come from within me and impel me to do everything as a pastor, as a man”. In order to face “with solidarity and intelligence this historic struggle,” he added.
Whoever heard these words understood that Pope Francis prays, acts and speaks like a Christian and like a man getting involved. And in fact he confronted the rampant drama of unemployment by opening, first of all, in confidence, when he spoke about the great crisis of the thirties and his family of Italian emigrants in Argentina: “There was no work! And in my childhood I heard talk of this period at home. I never saw it, I wasn't even born yet, but I felt this suffering at home”.
But perhaps his most touching witness was when the Pope spoke to young people about the 21st of September, “the 60th anniversary of the day I heard Jesus' voice in my heart”. From then – that was in 1953 – the life of that 17 year old boy began to take a completely different direction. And now I have been “60 years on the path of the Lord, behind him, beside him, always with him”, the Pope said. He confided to them his “happiness with these 60 years with the Lord”, concluding that one really should “go forward with Jesus. He never fails”.
St. Peter’s Square
Feb. 20, 2019
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