“Bring the Gospel to our contemporaries and to continue, like these Blesseds, to resist new ideologies”
Pope Francis stressed this during his Divine Liturgy in Romania, the final day of his three-day, May 31-June 2, 2019, visit to the nation, marking his 30th Apostolic Visit abroad. ZENIT French journalist, Anne Kurian, is on the Papal Flight.
In his homily Sunday, June 2, in the Romanian city of Blaj, where he beatified seven Romanian bishops, including a cardinal, martyred, between 1950 and 1970, tortured for their faith, Francis called on faithful to be “witnesses of freedom” and mercy, remembering the persecution people of faith there suffered during the regimes of the past.
Francis said: “[I] encourage you to bring the Gospel to our contemporaries and to continue, like these Blesseds, to resist these new ideologies now springing up.”
“May you be witnesses of freedom and mercy , allowing fraternity and dialogue to prevail over divisions, and fostering the fraternity of blood that arose in the period of suffering, when Christians, historically divided, closer and closer to one another.”
Pope Francis concluded, praying: “May the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary and the intercession of the new Blessed accompanying you on your journey.”
Here is the full Vatican-provided text of the homily:
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This morning, after having taken leave of the Apostolic Nunciature, the Holy Father moved by car to Bucharest Airport from where, at 9.00 am (8.00 am Rome time) – on board a TAR7 B737 / 800 – he left for Sibiu. On his arrival at Sibiu Airport, the Pope is welcomed by the Mayor, the President of the Region and the Prefect. Then drive to Blaj.
Upon his arrival in Blaj, the Pope is welcomed by His Beatitude Cardinal Lucian Mureşan, Major Archbishop of Făgăras şi Alba Iulia, by the Mayor, the President of the Region and the Prefect. He then moved to the Popemobile at the Campo della Libertà. After a few laps among the faithful, at 11.00 am (10.00 am Rome time), the Holy Father presides over the Divine Liturgy with the Beatification of 7 Greek Catholic Bishops Martyrs: HE Mons. Iuliu Hossu, HE Msgr. Vasile Aftenie, SE Mons. Ioan Bălan, HE Msgr. Valeriu Traian Frenţiu, HE Msgr. Ioan Suciu, HE Mons. Tit Liviu Chinezu and HE Msgr. Alexandru Rusu.
During the Eucharistic celebration, after the proclamation of the Gospel, the Pope gave the homily. After the prayer of blessing and consecration of the icon of the new Blesseds, His Beatitude Cardinal Lucian Mureşan addresses a greeting to the Pope and, on behalf of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church, offers him a gift of a silver case containing some relics of the new Beati and their icon. Then the Holy Father guides the recitation of the Regina Coeli and, after the final blessing, he moves by car to the Palace of the Curia of Blaj where he lunches with the Papal Suite.
We publish below the homily that the Pope pronounced during the Celebration:
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (Cf. Jn 9: 2). The disciples’ question to Jesus triggers a series of actions and events that will accompany the entire Gospel account and clearly reveal what really blinds the human heart.
Jesus, like his disciples, sees the man blind from birth. He acknowledges him and gives him his full attention. After making it clear that the man’s blindness is not the result of sin, he mixes dirt with his saliva and smears it on the man’s eyes. Then he tells me to wash in the pool of Siloam. After washing, the man blind from birth recovers his sight. It is significant that the miracle is recounted in just two verses; everything else has to do with the blind man who has recovered his sight, but with the arguments that followed his healing. It seems that his life has been the subject of little interest, except occasional debate, irritation and anger. Then, the Pharisees, who also questioned his parents. They questioned the identity of the man who was healed; then they deny the act of God, with the excuse that God does not work on the Sabbath. They were actually born blind.
The whole scene and the arguments that follow someone’s show in the center. It is particularly hard for people who think that “the Sabbath” is more than the love of the Father who will be saved (cf. 1 Tim2: 4). The blind man had to live not only with his own blindness, but also with the blindness of those around him. We have special interest, labels, theories, abstractions and ideologies, which manage only to blind everything around them. The Lord’s Approach is different: from hiding himself behind inaction or ideological abstractions, he looks at people in the eye. He sees their hurts and their history. He goes out of his way to talk about things that are really important.
These lands know well how people suffer when an ideology or regime takes over, setting itself up as a rule of life and faith of people, diminishing and even eliminating their ability to make decisions, their freedom and their room for creativity ( cf. Laudato Si ‘,108). We have been trying to find a way of thinking and acting that showed contempt for others and led to expulsion and killing of the defenseless and the silencing of dissenting voices. I think of the seven Greek-Catholic Bishops whom I have had the joy of beatifying. In the face of fierce opposition from the regime, they are demonstrating an exemplary faith and love for their people. With great courage and interior fortitude, they have established their trust and confidence in their beloved Church. These pastors, martyrs for the faith, re-appropriated and handed down to the Romanian people we can sum up in two words: freedom and mercy .
With regard to freedom , I cannot help but note that we are celebrating this Divine Liturgy in the “Field of Liberty”. This place, filled with meaning, evokes the unity of people, which is found in the diversity of its religious expressions. All these things constitute a spiritual patrimony that enriches and distinguishes Romanian culture and national identity. The new blessed endured suffering and gave their lives to oppose an ideological system that oppressed the fundamental rights of the human person. In that tragic period, the life of the Catholic community was put to a test by a dictatorial and atheistic regime. The Bishops and the Faith of the Greek-Catholic Church and those of the Latin-rite Catholic Church were persecuted and imprisoned.
The other aspect of the spiritual legacy of the new Beati is mercy. Their tenacity in profesional fidelity to Christ has matched their readiness to suffer martyrdom without showing their persecutors and indeed responding to them with great meekness. The words spoken by Bishop Iuliu Hossu during his imprisonment are eloquent: “God has felt this darkness of suffering in order to offer forgiveness and to pray for the conversion of all.” These words are the symbol of the attitude with which these blessed, at the time of testing, sustaining their people in confessing the faith without compromise or retaliation. The Christian faith with consistency and courage. The mercy they showed to their tormentors is a prophetic message.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Today, too, we witness the appearance of new ideologies. Forms of ideological colonization that devalue the person, life, marriage and the family (cf. Amoris Laetitia , 40), young people and children, leaving them without roots from which they can grow (cf. Christus Vivit , 78). Everything then becomes irrelevant unless it serves our immediate interests; people are led to take advantage of others and treat them as mere objects (cf. Laudato Si ‘, 123-124). Those voices, by sowing fear and division, bury the best of these lands. I think, for example, of the Edict of Torda in 1568, which forbade all forms of radicalism and one of the first in Europe to promote an act of religious tolerance.
I would like to encourage you to bring the Gospel to our contemporaries and to continue, like these Blesseds, to resist these new ideologies now springing up. May you be witnesses of freedom and mercy , allowing fraternity and dialogue to prevail over divisions, and fostering the fraternity of blood that arose in the period of suffering, when Christians, historically divided, closer and closer to one another. May the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary and the intercession of the new Blessed accompanying you on your journey.[Original text: Italian. Vatican-provided Text and Translation]