· Vatican City ·

To members of Italian Catholic Action movement

Embracing one another can prevent wars

 Embracing one another can prevent wars  ING-017
26 April 2024

Pope Francis greeted some 50,000 members of Italian Catholic Action in Saint Peter’s Square on Thursday, 25 April, as they gathered for their meeting between parents, grandparents and children.

Speaking of the theme of the meeting, “With Open Arms”, the Pope noted that “embrace is one of the most spontaneous expressions of human experience” and that it is through an embrace that life begins. The Pope introduced three points of reflection: three types of embrace: the missing embrace, the saving embrace, and the life-changing embrace. Speaking first of the missing embrace, Pope Francis noted that sometimes, “the enthusiasm that you express so joyfully today is not welcomed in our world”. At times, he continued, “it encounters closures and resistances, becoming not vehicles of brotherhood, but of rejection and confrontation, often violent”. Often, Pope Francis noted, “wars originate from missing embraces”, and this leads to prejudices and misunderstandings that lead you to see someone else as the enemy.

Speaking then of the saving embrace, Pope Francis noted that “humanly embracing means expressing positive and fundamental values ​​such as affection, esteem, trust, encouragement and reconciliation”, but that this becomes “even more vital when experienced in the dimension of faith”. Pope Francis noted that at the centre of our existence is the merciful embrace of God, “of the good Father revealed in Christ Jesus, whose face is reflected in every one of His gestures”.

Going on to speak of the third embrace, the life-changing embrace, the Pope turned to the saints, many of whose lives have been “decisively marked by an embrace”. Pope Francis went on to tell all those gathered that they will themselves be the presence of Christ “the more [they] know how to embrace and support every needy brother with merciful and compassionate arms”. In this way, he continued, people will be capable of making concrete signs of change.

Although Pope Francis had finished speaking of his three previous points, he chose to dwell on one final topic: the Synod. “Seeing all of you here together reminds me of the Synod”, he said. To advance in synodality “there is a need for people shaped by the Spirit”, and for this reason “I invite you to be athletes and standard bearers of synodality, in the dioceses and parishes to which you belong, for a full implementation of the path up to now”.

Finally, Pope Francis thanked each person for what they “are” and for what they “do”, before invoking Our Lady to accompany them, always.