Pope: City Needs Education, Solidarity for Rebirth

Naples Opens Jubilee Year of Renewal

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By Mirko Testa

NAPLES, Italy, DEC. 21, 2010 (Zenit.org).- For the many problems that grip the city of Naples, Benedict XVI sees at least two solutions: investment in the integral education of young people and the promotion of solidarity.

This was the message of a letter sent by the Pope to Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, archbishop of Naples, on the occasion of Thursday’s opening of the special Jubilee Year called by the Parthenopean archdiocese. The year was initiated with the aim of undertaking a path of rebirth throughout 2011.

It aims to be an event of a civil character, which recalls the ten years since the Great Jubilee of 2000 and responds to the difficulties of the present, such as the riots surrounding the garbage crisis and violent crimes. The theme proposed for the Jubilee Year is Caravaggio’s «The Seven Works of Mercy,» kept in the Pio Monte Chapel of Mercy in via Tribunali.

In the letter the Pontiff mentioned the precious «religious patrimony» of the Naples community, from which «Christian holiness flourished abundantly.» 

He also acknowledged «the spreading of a secularist vision of life and the plethora of evils that afflict the civil consortium, ensnared by individualism.»

The Holy Father noted that this environment also has «the influence of negative and deviant models, which strongly affect family and social life, in particular, the new generations.»

Because of this, he underlined the «human and Christian formation of children and young people,» strongly «exposed to risks of deviance.» 

Benedict XVI exhorted the parents, moreover, «to make Jesus and his message known to their children, from a very young age, with signs and words that the Christian community has always proposed and practiced,» because «the future depends in large part on this integral formative commitment.» 

Courageous witnesses

At the same time, he encouraged Christians «to be agents of truth and courageous witnesses of the Gospel» to ensure «relationships of genuine charity, which are expressed in concrete forms of solidarity and service, so as to show alternative examples of life, accessible to all and, at the same time, emblematic.»

«In this way,» he continued, «the awareness will be reinforced also today, as always, that the seed of the Kingdom of God is present and active: a seed charged with the future, capable, if heard personally and generously, of transforming even the most difficult situations and of renewing the heart and face of Naples.»

The archdiocese’s special jubilee opened in the evening on Thursday, Dec. 16, one of three days each year in which the blood of St. Januarius, patron of Naples, liquefies in its reliquary. The date marks the patronage of Naples and the archdiocese. 

More than 1,000 people gathered in the cold and paraded silently holding torches as the archbishop of Naples greeted and blessed them. The event was attended by 2007 Nobel laureate, Richard Samson Odingo, and of historian Lucien Jaume.

In his address, Cardinal Sepe spoke of a Naples that «again awaits its springtime, buried under a heap of rubbish, disfigured by evil living, offended by the plague of unemployment, abused by widespread illegality, used by all those that abandoned it to its degradation.»

In a pastoral letter addressed to the region’s people just days before the opening of the jubilee, the cardinal encouraged the citizens not «to close the door to hope,» and inveighed against partisanship and parochialism that «never result in doing good for the citizens.» 

He pointed to a lack of «political projection» in addressing the emergencies that contribute to the social hardship, «health care, schools, public assistance, transport: all the complex network of services that are at the pulsating heart of the city,» which «seems lacerated in more points.»

«It is, in fact, the lack of a correct social justice to show the gravest lesions in our structures,» the prelate stated. 

International vices 

He also warned against «the vices» of the international scene that are having repercussions on families «who see themselves ever more constrained to open the doors of the home to every form of crisis: often it is the loss of work of fathers or mothers that is added to the vain search for jobs of children.»

«By a tragic hoax,» Cardinal Sepe continued, «on our territory the offer of work is not lacking , but it is a deadly offer of death, because it is in fact death that easily enlists in the lugubrious exercise of violence and crime, a spiral from which there is most often no way out.» 

«Violence, organized or not, indicated in the old way as racket» or «updated in the most modern version of the system, remains the first and most evil obstacle,» which must be «removed with all means,» even more so «than the rubbish of the streets,» he stated. 

«It is the real cancer that can drag our land adrift,» the cardinal added.

In Thursday’s address, the prelate stated, «From this evening we are all called to commitment to participation, each one in his role, each one for his part is called to be an active and co-responsible citizen to turn the page.»

«We are here this evening because we do not wish anyone to rob us of hope,» he affirmed.

Cardinal Sepe said, «This evening our lighted torches have rent the darkness of inertia and want to light a new light, the one that gives dignity to our being citizens.»

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