“We want hope so as not to rob it from young people with a realism without passion. One who has hope doesn’t give up”, said Archbishop Zuppi in Bologna, this Sunday october 1, 2017, on the occasion of Pope Francis’ one day visit to Cesena and Bologna.
Bologna – October 1, 2017 – Main Square, 12:00 Noon
Welcome Address of H.E. Monsignor Matteo Zuppi,
Archbishop of Bologna
Thank you, Holy Father. I thus explain the joy of Bologna and of all the Emilia Romagna Region for your presence in this city, which is a crossroads of so many roads. Because of this also, it’s most profound identity is hospitality. Thank you because you also wished to come here.
Your presence in Bologna today is the culmination of our Eucharistic Congress, entitled: “You Give them to Eat” – Eucharist and City of Men and opens, with the first Sunday of the Word, next year’s journey. This Square is like the heart of our city. Saint Patronius welcomes us, remembered as Pater and Protector and depicted always, in fact, with the city in his hands. The Church wishes to be a Mother that protects and takes care of her children. Bologna is a wonderful tree that has very long roots and they are Christian roots, Cardinal Biffi said. The Church wishes to live in the Square, in the streets of the city of men, so that she doesn’t lose her truth mixing herself with it but, rather, becomes like that fountain of which Saint John XXIII spoke that gives water to all, especially those that are most thirsty.
At the beginning of the last century, all the walls that closed the city were pulled down. Bologna wanted to grow. One who looks at the future pulls down walls, he doesn’t build them. We must very much overcome the most dangerous, invisible and very resistant walls, those of solitude and individualism, of prejudice and indifference. Left intact only, however, were the 12 doors of access to the city, sign of hospitality and pledge or our vocation to the Celestial City. Bologna is the city of porticos. They are our bridges, which unite her and facilitate encounter and journeying. They are as corridors of a city that wishes to be house and a house that is open to the city. In terms of economic convenience one could say that it’s wasted space and, for some, dangerous! However, it has never lost what unites and protects and the real danger is not to have such spaces! The city of men can’t lose “social friendship” which makes her become truly city, a community and not a whole of very beautiful towers but also closed and at bottom, isolated. The porticos are a piece of the street that enters the houses and vice versa, a city that wants to be home for whoever comes to it. It’s as the opening of the threshold of the house to the threshold of Heaven.
Appearing on this Square also are the Municipality and the University, which is the oldest in the world, which has represented, <so to speak> the first “Erasmus” of history. It wishes to continue to transmit and seek that humanism, so inspired by Christian teachings and which also stimulates the Church herself. Europe and the whole world are in such need of it. It’s our true identity. Here, first city in Europe, 5855 slaves were freed in 1257, ransomed by the Municipality that, paying the expenses, rendered them persons and wrote their names in a book called, not accidentally, Liber Paradisus. It’s a boast and a responsibility for us, because today our Libertas means to seek equality and fraternity and to write many other Liber that snatch from the hell of poverty and offer all and always the right to be a person. Here civil and religious culture have been able to address the great and tragic challenges of the War and of the reconstruction up to the dark years of terrorism and of the massacres unfortunately without truth, and today called to confront one another in a lofty and effective way before the new emergencies of our time. Here the forces of work seek, in agreement among themselves, the method to repair the social elevator that seems broken, to renew the great tradition of laboriousness and solidary co-operation of these lands and for an economy that has man at the center.
Thinking of this city, encouraged by the tradition of solidarity and of commitment to the common good, of which our people are so rich, I feel it necessary to pronounce a word: hope. It’s our commitment and also our choice, because hope asks us to commit ourselves and to sacrifice ourselves so as not to disappoint, because it’s not vague optimism. We want hope so as not to rob it from young people with a realism without passion. One who has hope doesn’t give up; he addresses with more courage the inevitable difficulties and challenges and doesn’t accept the logic of “what do I care” or the poison of resignation that makes everything impossible and difficult. Hope asks us to confront one another, in the different roles and responsibilities, to build on the rubble of the crisis, of disappointment, of suffering. The Church today, in the heart of the Eucharistic Year, wishes to address all and to pronounce the word hope, who sees him who is not yet but will be and loves him who is not yet and will be.
Today after so much time, it was 1222, another Francis visited this city of ours. Saint Francis spoke in fact in the Square in front of the Municipal Palace. And as they commented then, his words “of an angel and not of a man,” were “like sharp arrows that pierced men’s heart” because he spoke of the things of God a modus concionandi, namely as was used in public assemblies, today we would say secularly , so that all could understand. Thank you, Pope Francis, because you also speak thus and your words and your gestures open all to hope, inspiring ideals and enthusiasm and make God known, friend of men and of the poor. May Our Lady of Saint Luke help us and protect us.
Copyright © ZENIT for translation
By Virginia M. Forrester