Pope: Don't Give In to Pessimism

Urges Faithful Living in Mafia Region to Have Courage

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LAMEZIA TERME, Italy, OCT. 10, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI acknowledges that the people of Italy’s southeastern region of Calabria live in what seems a constant state of emergency, but he is urging them nonetheless: «Do not be afraid to live and give witness of the faith!»

This was the Pope’s message as he visited Lamezia Terme during a one-day trip Sunday to a region of Italy that is marked by organized crime and unemployment.

The local mafia organization, the ‘Ndrangheta, is suspected of a recent drug bust in the area, for example, in which police confiscated more than 1,000 pounds of cocaine.

«If we observe this beautiful region, we see in it a seismic land not only from the geological point of view, but also from a structural, compartmental and social point of view,» the Pope observed in his homily.

He acknowledged the «acute and destabilizing» problems: a «land where unemployment is worrying, where an often atrocious criminality wounds the social fabric, a land in which one has the constant sensation of being in an emergency.»

Nevertheless, the Pontiff urged the faithful: «Do not be afraid to live and to give witness of the faith in the different realms of society, in the multiple situations of human existence!»

He also encouraged them «never to give in to the temptation to pessimism or to withdraw within yourselves. Draw from the resources of your faith and your human capacities; make an effort to grow in the capacity to collaborate, to look after your neighbor and the whole of the public good, guarding the wedding garment of love; persevere in giving witness to human and Christian values so profoundly rooted in the faith and in the history of this territory and of its people.»

Church efforts

Benedict XVI noted that his visit coincided with the concluding phase of a five-year pastoral plan under way in the local Church.

He expressed his support for the emphasis being given to lectio divina and the project to educate the faithful in social doctrine.

«I earnestly hope that from these initiatives a new generation will spring forth of men and women able to promote not just partial interests but the common good,» the Holy Father said.

He further emphasized the need to support Christian couples, preparing them for marriage and family life. And he encouraged priests to «cultivate an interior life, an intense relationship with God and to decidedly remove themselves from a certain consumerist and worldly mentality, which is a constant temptation in the reality in which we live.»


Mayor Gianni Speranza greeted the Pontiff before the Mass, describing Calabria as a «land of suffering,» where «extraordinary beauty,» mixes with «enormous potential and resources (…) but, at the same time, unacceptable unemployment, dramatic injustice and violence.»

«We cannot accept that in our land the dominion of criminal powers is reinforced, good business expelled by bad and contaminated business, illegal capital replacing legal capital, our young people having neither work nor prospects and being obliged to leave, and also many priests being threatened,» he said.

The mayor insisted that «change is indispensable and possible,» and stressed that the Pontiff’s visit would leave «an indelible imprint on the hearts» of all, above all of young people, who «need to be encouraged to build their future free from mafias, threats and fears.»

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