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The mission of the poor

· Pope Francis to pilgrims from the province of Lyons ·

“Pray for the perpetrators of your poverty, that they may convert”. This is the “mission” that Pope Francis entrusted to the 200 participants on pilgrimage from the dioceses of the French province of Lyons — led by Cardinal Philippe Barbarin —, among whom were many people who live in conditions of social hardship. 

Receiving them on Wednesday morning, 6 July, in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope wished to reiterate his closeness to those who experience situations of pain. It was no coincidence that, shortly before, he had met with the parents of Beau Solomon, the 19 year-old American who was found dead in the Tiber in recent days.

During the lengthy audience with the poor from France, the Pope spoke of the “capacity to welcome”, which, based on Jesus’ example, should characterize every Christian, regardless of his story or the burden he bears. On the 100th anniversary of the birth of Fr Joseph Wresinski— a priest who spent his whole life working to build a society without misery and recognizing the dignity of those need — the French pilgrims spent the morning “in the heart of the Church”. Pope Francis compared them, in his address, to Mary, Joseph and Jesus in the biblical scene of the flight into Egypt. They too, he said, “were troubled by persecution: but God was there”. Strong in the awareness of the presence of the Lord within the suffering of men, the Pope encouraged the volunteers who have embraced Fr Wresinski’s ideal of a “shared life”, to enter into the “disposition [of mind]” of those living in poverty, and to “restore to them, life, identity and dignity”. Recalling the exhortation in the Gospel, “Woe to the rich, to the elders, to those who enjoy being flattered”, the Pope asked the poor to pray for the conversion of those who “have no compassion”, and that they “smile at them” from the heart.

The Pope’s address

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St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 23, 2018

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