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For a Church stripped of worldliness

· The spiritual itinerary of the Pope through the holy places of St Francis of Assisi, the day after the tragedy on Lampedusa ·

From the city of peace he appeals for respect for creation and every human being

The itinerary for Pope Francis' trip to Assisi is rich in symbolism – taking place on Friday, 4 October, the feast of the Patron Saint of Italy. From his moving encounter with sick and disabled children at the Serafico Institute, to his greeting to the poor, the immigrants and the unemployed at the Room of Renunciation, to the celebration of Mass in the central square, the first half of his pastoral visit was a continuous reminder of the spiritual roots of the Pontificate of Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

On a day that should have been a celebration but was transformed into a “day of tears” after the tragedy of Lampedusa, Pope Francis' third journey in Italy traced its steps through the places that marked the human and religious life of the Saint of Assisi. Arriving ahead of schedule – accompanied by the eight members of the Council of Cardinals who have been gathered these days in the Vatican – the Bishop of Rome wanted to immediately embrace the little ones assisted at the Serafico Institute. And setting aside his prepared text, he gave an unexpected reflection on the wounds of Christ, exhorting Christians to acknowledge and accept “the flesh of Jesus”.

After a private visit to the Sanctuary of San Damiano, the Pope then moved to the Bishopric of Assisi, and in the hall where Francis renounced the world the Pope spoke to the poor cared for by Caritas. Among the unemployed and homeless, he again gave an improvised address calling the Church to be on its guard against the danger of “spiritual worldliness”, which “kills the soul” and “kills the person”. There he remembered victims of the terrible tragedy in Lampedusa.

At the end of the morning, Pope Francis visited the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore and then went to the upper basilica of San Francesco and then down to pray at the tomb of the Poverello. During Mass in the square outside, he made a strong appeal calling people to respect creation and every human being, to be instruments of peace and not destruction. And he again addressed his “best wishes to all Italians” on the feast of their Patron Saint.

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St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 21, 2018

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