Pope's Address to Circus Performers and Traveling Shows

«You Spread Around You a Joyful Atmosphere and You Ease the Burden of Daily Work»

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the address delivered by Pope Benedict XVI to circus performers at Paul VI Hall on Saturday. 

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Dear brothers and sisters!

I am happy to offer my welcome to all of you and to thank you for your welcome! You have come here is such great numbers to meet the Successor of Peter and to manifest – also on behalf of so many others who work in traveling shows – the joy of being Christians and belonging to the Church. I greet and thank Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, who organized this event in collaboration with the Diocese of Rome and with the “Migrantes” Foundation of the Italian Bishops’ Conference. Thank you, eminence! I am grateful also to your representatives [i.e., the representatives of the traveling shows], who offered us their witness and a wonderful little performance, and to those who helped to prepare this meeting, which occurs in the context of the Year of Faith, an important occasion to profess openly faith in the Lord Jesus.

That which first of all distinguishes your great family is the capacity to use the language that is particular and specific to your art. The joy of performing and play, the gracefulness of dance, the rhythm of music constitute an immediate path of communication to put one in dialogue with little ones and with adults, creating sentiments of peace, joy and harmony. With the variety of your professions and the originality of your performances, you know how to astonish and excite wonder, to offer occasions for celebration and of healthy entertainment.

Dear friends, starting precisely from these characteristics and with your style, you are called to witness to those values that are part of your tradition: love of family, consideration for children, attention to the disabled, care for the sick, valorization of the elderly and of their patrimony of experiences. In your culture you preserve dialogue between the generations, the sense of friendship, the taste for working as a team. Welcome and hospitality are native to you, as also the concern to respond to the most authentic desires, above all of the young generations. Your professions require renunciation and sacrifice, responsibility and perseverance, courage and generosity: virtues that are not always appreciated by contemporary society but that contributed to form whole generations of your great family. I am also aware of the many problems linked to your itinerant life, such as the teaching of children, the search for appropriate places for your shows, authorizations for your performances and permissions of stay for foreigners. It is my wish that public officials, recognizing the social and cultural function of traveling shows, make the effort to protect this particular category, and I encourage both you and civil society to overcome all prejudice and to try always to integrate yourselves well in local realities.

Dear brothers and sisters, the Church rejoices in the commitment that you show and appreciates your fidelity to traditions, which you are justly proud of. The Church who is herself, like you, a pilgrim in this world, invites you to participate in her divine mission though your daily work. The dignity of every man also expresses itself through the honest exercise of professionalism and the practice of that gratuity that does not let itself be determined by economic advantage. So, you too, while you attend to the quality of your performances and shows, did not fail to take care that, with the values of the Gospel, you continue to offer to the young generations the hope and encouragement that they need above all in respect to the difficulties of life, to the temptations to despair, to close in on themselves and to pessimism, which hinder them from seeing the beauty of existence.

Although itinerant life prevents you from being a stable part of parish life and does not facilitate regular participation in catechesis and divine worship, in your world as well a new evangelization is necessary. It is my hope that you can find, in the community where you are staying, people who are welcoming and helpful, able to meet your spiritual needs. Do not forget, however, that the family is the primary way by which the faith is transmitted, the little domestic Church called to make Jesus and his Gospel known and educate children according to the law of God, so that all may achieve full human and Christian maturity (cf. John Paul II, “Familiaris consortio,” 2). May your families always be schools of faith and charity, training grounds for communion and fraternity.

Dear artists and workers in traveling shows, I repeat to you what I said at the beginning of my pontificate: “There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know him and to speak to others of our friendship with him … Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation” (Mass for the inauguration of the Pontificate, April 24, 2005). In assuring you of the nearness of the Church, which shares your journey, I entrust all of you to the Virgin Mary, the “star of the way,” who with her maternal presence accompanies us every moment of our life.

[The Holy Father then greeted those present in various languages. In English he said:]

Dear friends, you spread around you a joyful atmosphere and you ease the burden of daily work. May you also be men and women with a strong inner self, open to contemplation and dialogue with God. I pray that your faith in Christ and your devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary may sustain you in your life and work.

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

To each of you and to your families and communities I bestow from my heart the Apostolic Blessing. Thank you.

[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]
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