Francis responded to the wildly cheering crowds with a huge smile as he walked through one of Brazil’s slums today.
During his visit to the Varginha favela, he said that this downtrodden community had to stand for every district in Brazil, since it was impossible to fulfill his wish to “knock on every door [in Brazil], to say good morning, to ask for a glass of cold water, to take a cafezinho, to speak as one would to family friends, to listen to each person pouring out his or her heart — parents, children, grandparents … But Brazil is so vast! It is impossible to knock on every door! So I chose to come here, to visit your community, which today stands for every district in Brazil.”
The Holy Father lauded the Brazilians for making him feel so welcome since his Monday arrival for World Youth Day.
He said that “when we are generous in welcoming people and sharing something with them — some food, a place in our homes, our time — not only do we no longer remain poor: we are enriched. I am well aware that when someone needing food knocks at your door, you always find a way of sharing food; as the proverb says, one can always add more water to the beans! And you do so with love, demonstrating that true riches consist not in material things, but in the heart!”
The Pontiff declared that the whole world can learn a lesson from Brazil, and particularly her poor: “a valuable lesson in solidarity, a word that is too often forgotten or silenced, because it is uncomfortable.”
He urged the rich and powerful to work for justice and all people of good will to “never tire of working for a more just world, marked by greater solidarity!”
“Everybody, according to his or her particular opportunities and responsibilities, should be able to make a personal contribution to putting an end to so many social injustices,” Francis stated.
The Bishop of Rome also assured the poor that the Church is their defender. He said the Church supports “every initiative that can signify genuine development for every person and for the whole person,” and stressed that there is a need to satisfy both material and spiritual hunger.
He pointed to four “pillars” for development: “There is neither real promotion of the common good nor real human development when there is ignorance of the fundamental pillars that govern a nation, its non-material goods: life, which is a gift of God, a value always to be protected and promoted; the family, the foundation of coexistence and a remedy against social fragmentation; integral education, which cannot be reduced to the mere transmission of information for purposes of generating profit; health, which must seek the integral well-being of the person, including the spiritual dimension, essential for human balance and healthy coexistence; security, in the conviction that violence can be overcome only by changing human hearts.”
Finally, Francis encouraged the youth, and everyone, to persevere in the fight for justice.
“Never yield to discouragement, do not lose trust, do not allow your hope to be extinguished,” he said. “Situations can change, people can change. Be the first to seek to bring good, do not grow accustomed to evil, but defeat it. The Church is with you, bringing you the precious good of faith, bringing Jesus Christ, who came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
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