Pope Francis' Address to Pilgrims from the Diocese of Isernia-Venafro

“Every parish community is called to be a privileged place of listening and of proclamation of the Gospel.”

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Here is the translation of the Pope’s address to 7,000 pilgrims from the Italian diocese of Isernia-Venafro.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good morning to all! From the moment I came in, I have seen your joy, you are joyful, you are joyful! Now I understand somewhat why Pope Celestine did not feel at ease in Rome, and went back to you – because of your joy!

Thank you for this great pilgrimage that you organized after my pastoral visit to your Diocese on July 5 of last year. I want to manifest once again my gratitude for your hospitality and to greet affectionately your Bishop, Monsignor Camillo Cibotti. Last year he was just beginning his service as Bishop of Isernia and now he has learned a bit!” I greet the priests, the men and women Religious and the lay faithful committed in the service of the Gospel. And a deferent thought goes to the Authorities, who wished to be present here.

The festive climate of our meeting cannot let us forget the numerous and grave problems that still afflict your land, to which I already made reference in the course of my visit to the city of Isernia, and to which the Bishop also made reference now. I am thinking especially of the chronic problem of unemployment, which especially affects the young generations, which increasingly make the choice to go to other countries. I am also thinking of the lack of adequate services to the effective needs of people – in particular the elderly, the sick and the disabled – and families. Faced with this worrying scenario, a general mobilization is necessary, to unite the strengths of the population, the institutions, private entities and various civil bodies. It is not possible to defer the concrete steps that need to be taken to favor the creation of new jobs, thus offering the young the possibility of realizing their potential through honest work. Things must be found for young people, posts of work, little things, because you know work gives you dignity. Just think, a youth that does not find work , does not feel such dignity and suffers. I encourage you to seek, to pray, to look for little things, little things for young people especially.

As the Bishop recalled a short time ago, your Diocese feels the need strongly of a new missionary impetus, which is able to go beyond a static religious reality. The Celestine Jubilee Year you are living offers your communities the opportunity to return to Christ, to the Gospel, to be reconciled with God and with your neighbor. It is lovely to be reconciled, to have one’s soul in peace: the family in peace, the neighborhood in peace. And this is an endeavor that God’s grace will do, if we go ahead with this commitment.

Reborn thus is the desire to take his love to all, especially to persons who are alone, marginalized, humiliated by suffering, by social injustice; to so many that, tired of human words, feel a strong nostalgia for God. Your Diocesan Jubilee Year is preparing you to live even better the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy, which I proclaimed recently. May these intense times arouse a vigorous missionary impetus  especially in the parishes, where ecclesial communion finds its most immediate and visible expression. Every parish community is called to be a privileged place of listening and of proclamation of the Gospel; a house of prayer gathered around the Eucharist; a true school of communion, where the ardor of charity prevails over the temptation of a superficial and arid religiosity.

When the difficulties seem to obfuscate the prospects of a better future, when we experience failure and emptiness around us, it is the moment of Christian hope, founded on the Risen Lord and accompanied by an ample charitable effort towards the neediest. See, now that your diocesan path is orientated in a praiseworthy way  to this way of charity, it will be able to involve more persons and more social and institutional realities in approaching those without a home and without work, as well as all those who are afflicted by old and new poverties, not only to provide for their urgent needs, but to build together with them a more hospitable, more just and solidaristic society, more respectful of differences..

“How lovely it is to be able to address the alternating affairs of existence in the company of Jesus, to have his Person and his message with us.” It was with these words that last year I invited the young people of Abruzzo and of Molise to go forward with courage, to surmount the challenges of the present moment supporting and helping one another. To young people and to all of you I repeat today: problems are surmounted with solidarity. Therefore I encourage you to be witnesses of solidarity in your cities and in your countries, at work, at school, in the family and places of meeting.

May the Virgin Mary render you docile to the word of the Lord, transform you into humble, credible and effective apostles of the Gospel and support you in your good resolutions. I entrust you all, in particular the little ones, the poor and the sick to Her and to the Saints that made precious the path of faith of your people . Sustained by such powerful intercessors, look without fear and with hope to your future and the future of your land. With these wishes I impart to all from my heart a special Blessing; and, please, do not forget to pray for me because I also need it.

We pray to Our Lady all together.

[Hail Mary]
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