Avoid a humanitarian crisis in Idlib
· At the Angelus, the Pope appeals to the international community and all parties involved in the conflict in Syria ·
It the end of the Sunday Angelus on 2 September, in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope made an appeal to the international community and to all those involved in the conflict in Syria to avoid the onset of a “humanitarian crisis”.
Expressing his grief over the “winds of war” that continue to blow throughout the country as well as for the “distressing news” delivered most recently, the Pope urged all involved “to utilize the instruments of diplomacy, dialogue and negotiation, in respect of international humanitarian laws and in order to safeguard the lives of civilians”.
Previously, commenting on Mark’s Gospel passage (7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23) which recounts the dispute between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees on the observance of traditional ritual precepts, the Pope addressed the theme of the “authenticity of our obedience to the Word of God, against any worldly contamination or legalistic formalism”.
For Pope Francis, even today believers risk repeating the same errors made by the Doctors of the Law, falling into a hypocrisy that aims to distort “God’s will, disregarding his commandments in order to observe human traditions”. The Lord, said the Pope, invites us to “avoid the danger of giving more importance to form than to substance”. He calls us to recognize once again the true core of the experience of faith, that is, love of God and love of neighbour, purifying it from the hypocrisy of legalism and ritualism.
In his reflection, the Pope also cited a passage from the Letter of St James in which the Apostle affirms that true religion is to “visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”, that is, “to practice charity towards neighbours, beginning with the neediest, the frailest, most marginalized people”. The Holy Father clarified that “to keep oneself unstained from the world does not mean to isolate oneself and close oneself off from reality” Rather, “there must be not an exterior attitude but interior, substantive: it means being vigilant so that our way of thinking and acting may not be polluted by the worldly mentality or that of vanity, of greed, of arrogance”. In reality, “a man or a woman who lives in vanity, in greed, or in arrogance and at the same time believes and shows him or herself as being religious and even goes as far as condemning others, is a hypocrite”.
Beginning with this awareness, Pope Francis invited the faithful to “make an examination of conscience to see how we embrace the Word of God”, which is to be heard and internalized with “open minds and hearts, as good soil, in a way that it may be assimilated and may bear fruit in real life”. He recalled that “Jesus says that the Word of God is like a wheat: it is a seed that must grow in concrete deeds”. And in this way, the Word itself purifies our heart, our actions and our relationship with God and with others and is freed from hypocrisy.
St. Peter’s Square
Aug. 20, 2019
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